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LI E) RAFLY
FRANK SINCLAIR'S WIFE.
AND OTHER STOBIES.
geoege geith," " too mtch alone," " home, sweet home,'
"the eael's peomise," etc. etc.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
TINSLEY BROTHERS, 8, CATHERINE STREET. STRAND.
[All rights of Translation and Reproduction a/re Beserved.']
PKINTED BY TATLOE AND CO.,
LITTLB QUEBN STREET, LINCOLir'S INN EIBLDS.
THE THIBD VOLUME.
MY LAST LOVE.
I. AFTER HER MARRIAGE ....
II. I PROPOSE
III. THE " HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE "
V. MY VISITOR
VI. LADY SURRY .....
VII. ALL WRONG
HERTFORD O'DONNELL'S WARNING
MY LAST LOVE
A SEQUEL TO
• MY FIEST LOVE.
MY LAST LOVE.
AFTER HER MARRIAGE.
Throughout the whole of my professional
career it has been a comfort to me to re-
member that when the great case of ' Ayles-
bury V. Montfort ' was lost, as lost it was, I
had no share in the disaster.
To this hour I cannot understand why
Aylesbury was beaten, more particularly as
when he ultimately carried his cause to the
House of Lords, he gained the day.
Trifles, as people regard them, influence
verdicts. The state of the foreman's liver —
My Last Love.
the fact of some pig-headed juror having
dined too late and too well the evening
preceding — the temper in which another
entered his matutinal omnibus, said temper
being influenced by the lateness of break-
fast, or a request for cash from his wife —
these things, and things such as these, are
sufficient occasionally to rule the fortunes
of Csesar, whilst the outer world considers
the fault lies either with Caesar or Csesar's
friends, and censures and chides both ac-
Wherefore, the fates having ruled I was
to achieve no success in love, I felt glad —
when I was capable of feeling glad about
anything — that the jade Fortune had not
served me the sorry trick of taking not only
Eose, but the chances of fame and wealth
After all, if a man must wear the willow,
it is as well he should wear it in a decent
I think there is a good deal of truth in
After Her Marriage,
that well-worn adage concerniDg love and
cards. For my own part I cannot now
recall an instance of a man who proved a
winner in both. THe world of course talks
largely about handsome wives, and lovely
children, and a princely income, as it talks
largely about most things appertaining to its
favourite sons and daughters ; but I, who
have listened to as many confidences as most,
know quite well that to the majority of
human beings there comes an hour when the
devil or luck says, '-'• How will you take it
— gold or affection ? It is impossible to
grasp both — which shall it be ? "
Whilst some poor wretches handing the
whole of their future into the hands of fate,
get nothing back in exchange — for every
rule has its exceptions — and there will
always be some men and some women with
whom nothing shall prosper till the end of
this world's volume.
As I was remarking, it has ever been a
comfort to me that I had nothing to do with
My Last Love,
the great case of ^ Aylesbury v, Montfort.'
"WTien it came on, and an intelligent jury
decided Montfort should retain possession of
a property to which he had no more right
than myself, I was lying in Staple's Inn ill
unto death, with my mother and Joan tend-
ing me. Everyone of course said it was the
shock of seeing Eose another man's wife
which brought on the fever, for there is a
great deal of that sort of folly believed, but
when I grew better I knew differently. It
is never so much the shock we receive, as
what we do after the shock, that stretches
us on a sick bed. Dick takes to brandy
probably, and Harry either to starving or
dissipation; I, Tom, walked for hours and
hours through the snow, which was be-
ginning to thaw, got thoroughly soaked, and
then sat in my wet clothes while the night
express bore me back to town.
Arrived in town, I thought to avert all
chance of illness by a glass of something
hot and strong — but the remedy either came
After Her Marriage.
too late or was not of tlie right kind, for
after that night there ensues a blank in my
memory which has never been thoroughly
filled up, even by those obliging friends who
subsequently informed me I was delirious
for several days, and talked a great deal of
nonsense ; a feat often performed, I have
since had occasion to remark, by people in
the enjoyment of thoroughly sound health.
The first evidence of having recovered my
senses which I gave was trying to rise and
dress, in order to assist in the discomfiture
of Montfort ; but as I fainted in this en-
deavour, and as, moreover, the jury were
deliberating on their verdict at that very
time, I made no subsequent attempt to ap-
pear in the case.
By slow degrees I realized that weeks had
gone by whilst I lay unconscious of their
passage, that Eose's honeymoon must be
over, that as things rush on now-a-days, my
trouble was an old one, that my former
life with its hopes, its fantasies, its fears, its
My Last Love,
struggles, was at an end, and that if I were
to do any good for myself or others in the
future life, which I could not help living, I
must try to forget everything connected with
that past existence — even the sound of the
busy mill wheel and the still beauty of the
woods through which, when the white
flowers of the wild anemone carpeted them,
Eose and I had wandered hand-in-hand to-
My mistress was gone — and I knew that
if I searched the wide world through I
should never find another love, that could be
my love, just as she had been — but after all
I whispered to myself, when at length I
felt strong enough to take courage and look
out over the days that were still to be gone
through, ^'Love is not all — it is not every-
And so far I was right— but ah ! friends,
I know now love is a great deal. Never-
theless, whether the day be cheered by sun-
shine or darkened by clouds, it has to be got
After Her Marriage,
through, and it is as well to accept what-
ever sort of weather God send with decent
My day had opened with the loss of Eose
— and what a loss that was I may never
hope to tell ; but once I was strong enough,
to consider the position, I determined not to
let my sorrow master me.
There were various ways in which I
could have shown my regret and evinced the
grief I experienced. For example, I might
have enlisted; for some inscrutable reason
men have been known ere now to adopt this
mode of comfort ; I could have cut my throat,
and so contributed many paragraphs to the
newspaper literature of the country — further,
it was competent for me to try whether strong
waters might not produce the same effect as
those of Lethe ; or to shut myself up like
persons I had then read of, and whose dupli-
cates I have since known ; or to plunge into
what people vaguely term a vortex of dissi-
pation ; or to indulge in unlimited tobacco.
8 My Last Love.
accompanied by unlimited beer — the means
required for obtaining such consolations not
being excessive. But as neither enlisting,
nor suicide, nor intemperance, nor eccentri-
city, was likely to give me back Eose, and
further I had parents to assist, and brothers
and sisters to push on in the world, I
thought it best to continue in the course I
had begun, and to proceed along the road I
was previously travelling — only without
Only ! well — well — in every life there is
its ^^but," and its ^4f," and its ^^only."
It was in the cottage near Southgate I
fully regained my strength, for when once
I could bear the jolting, my mother and
Joan moved me there. IN'ever shall I forget
the delicious languor — the luxurious idle-
ness of the days and weeks which followed.
Although at first I could scarcely endure to
look upon the face of JN'ature, by reason of
the memories she recalled, yet when she
came to me as she did, after a time, beauti-
After Her Marriage.
ful as ever, dressed in her robes of richest
green, with flowers in her hands, and buds
in her hair, with the lovely tints of spring
on her face, and smiles playing in her eyes,
I yielded myself to the seductions of old,
and lay on the green sward, blessing the
bright May time, while the wandering
breezes scented with hawthorn, and the
delicate fragrance of the wild dog roses
kissed my forehead and caressed my cheek.
I got well there— slowly but surely I
stole back to health, and then in the glad
summer weather what walks Joan and the
children and I had together !
There is not an inch of all that neighbour-
hood I could not traverse blindfold at this
moment, unless indeed it might be the
country near Colney Hatch and Wood Green,
where I am told a town has sprung up ;
where, in place of blackberries, there are
plantations of bricks and mortar, and instead
of wide common lands little suburban houses
with a patch of garden in front, protected from
lo My Last Love,
the tread of profane feet, by iron railings,
all of one pattern, and all painted one
But those winding lanes, those unexpected
fields paths, shall I ever forget their peace-
ful beauty ? I am old now, and the past
may return to me no more ; but yet as I
write there comes back a not unpleasant
memory, nothing more, alas ! of the strength
I possessed when we used to pace under the
arching trees of a certain lane leading off
to Berry Street, or when in a borrowed
phaeton I was wont to drive Joan around by
Chingford church, the old church I mean,
and along to the Forest, by roads, the very
thought of which touches something in my
heart, the exact nature of which I shall
never be able to define, unless in another
world we are as capable of describing our
feelings as we are of realizing them in this.
It was during that long holiday, also, that
I first fully comprehended the treasure God
had given us all in Joan. If the little
After Her Marriage, 1 1
cottage were a very bower of prettiness, it
was to Joan it owed its beauty. Under her
the younger fry worked with a will. It was
very funny to hear Joan talk to them as
though they had all emigrated to Australia,
and were really in a strange land, settlers
to whom nothing they had to do ought to
come amiss. Two of the boys were already
in situations, and after their morals and
comforts the old lady in Queen Anne Street
was supposed to look with anxious attention
for six days out of the seven ; but once the
seventh day came, or rather the evening of
the seventh, it might have made an old man
young again to hear the voices of those lads
as they went about the cottage and the
farm, shouting to the smaller fry and whist-
ling to the dogs, and halloaing with all the
mighty power of their strong lungs.
I thought with Eose the whole happiness
of my life had evaporated, leaving behind
it nothing save what was stale, flat, and un-
profitable ; but I know now that though my
12 My Last Love.
love was gone, my capability for enjoyment
was left, and that, although I had my moods
and tenses of deep depression and profound
melancholy, still I enjoyed that summer very
For one thing I had not yet quite realized,
what all the days of my life without Eose
meant; for another, though I beheld her
"Walter Surry's wife, I had not entirely
grasped the fact that I could never again
have either part or lot in her. There is
nothing so difficult to believe in as a
certainty, till we have lived long enough to
feel it is a certainty, and not a delusion.
Tor example, who that has lost any loved
object by means of death, ever, even in the first
agony of grief, grasps just what it all means
then, all it must mean in the futui-e ? Say,
a child has passed to the eternal shores, do
you suppose father or mother quite under-
stands the void that will be left ? The tiny
hands are still, the ' pattering feet quiet,
the prattling tongue mute, the place it occu-
Afte7' He7' Marriage,
pied empty ; but the knowledge of all this
comes happily by degrees, just as when a
man's wife dies he scarcely at first com-
prehends how keenly he may subsequently
feel her loss — say, for instance, in the matter
•And in those days when I walked round
Enfield Chase, and mooned about Wincli-
more Hill, when I became acquainted with
grassy lanes, where the convolvulus climbed
and the brambles trailed, when I crossed
every ford, and knew every field path,
thorough knowledge had not come to me of
how desolate a thing life — even a successful
life — might prove without Eose.
Yaguely, I imagine, there had sprung up
a hope in my heart, that if I worked hard
and made a name, Eose might still be mine.
As it is a simple impossibility ever to per-
suade a disinherited man that a dozen lives
will not fall in, and the coveted property ulti-
mately revert to him, so I was wont to picture
plague, pestilence, and famine let loose, in
14 My Last Love.
order that "Walter Surry might be removed
from the earth, and I get mine own again.
He hunts, I thought, and men have often
been killed by taking an awkward leap with
an awkward horse ; he shoots, it may be he
will meet his end in one of his owq pre-
serves : he has a yacht, it may go to the
bottom : he drives fast and furiously, some
day perchance his fiery steeds may carry
him to his death. Ideas such as these
floated through my mind, whilst it never
occurred to me that death might develope a
fancy for me, or fall in love to more purpose
than I had done with Eose — my Eose no
It was not right, I knew, to picture
Walter Surry dead, his wife a widow ; and
yet I imagine thoughts of the possibilities I
have hinted at, broke the force of my fall.
I was not cast out of the seventh heaven of
my fool's paradise with never a straw to
grasp at, and when I did reach the earth
paradise was so far away, and the realities
After Her Marriage. 15
of existence so urgently claiming attention,
that I was fain to regard the story of ^ My
First Love,' which has been already told,
as a sort of fairy tale that could never have
had any tangible connection with my prosaic
She was gone. As one wakes in the
morning, to find the fairest dream vanish
with the first touch of light, so I awoke by
degrees to a comprehension that Eose and I
were parted for ever — that she could no
merer be my love than the dream could be
dreamt over again, or the vision beheld a
It seems to me only yesterday that I first
saw her driving in the Park with her hus-
band, — looking lovely, of course, and happy
I drew back behind a tree, so that her
eyes might not rest on me, and when their
carriage had passed, I walked off in an
opposite direction, feeling as though I had
received a stab, and were bleeding in-
1 6 My Last Love.
But time went by, and I grew accustomed
to that spectacle; aye, even when I saw
her fondling her boy — his son, I can honestly
say my heart held a blessing for mother and
child, though at the moment the waters of my
life seemed bitter to me as those of Marah.
But I anticipate, and this is a fault in story-
telling, critics say — which is probably true,
since it would be expecting too much to
suppose they should ever read a tale with
sufficient attention to discriminate between
the actual present and the indicated future.
So I went hack to my chambers, my law
hooks, and, after a time, to my writing.
For a while it pleased me to put my
thoughts on paper, to the end that Eose
might read them ; but soon — recollecting
what a little goose she had always been,
and how she required some one beside her
to explain the meaning of the simplest ideas,
to translate as it might be the hard words
of a foreign tongue into commonplace En-
glish, to convert the guineas of great minds
into the more familiar shillings and pence
of ordinary exchange, — I gave up walking
YOL. III. c
1 8 My Last Love.
on stilts, well knowing that Eose would
only wonder wliat I could be doing up
there, and finally began to write for that
for which, sooner or later, all men and all
women do write, — namely, money.
I needed money both personally and for
the sake of my family. What my father
had saved out of the wreck of his fortunes
was almost exhausted, and though it is a
hard thing for a man to contemplate sup-
porting father and mother, brothers and
sisters, still it was just then the work lying
to my hand, and I took it accordingly.
The taste which first leaves a parent
chargeable to the parish, and then refuses to
pay the parish for keeping him, has never
seemed to me exactly good ; and, although
I am aware there are diversities of opinion
on this point, and that I have been often
called a fool for my pains even by the wife
of my bosom, still I venture difiidently to
state, that I do not think I am in any way
the poorer now because, to the best of my
I Propose, 19
limited ability, I helped to keep a roof over
the heads of my father and mother, and to
enable the younger children to provide for
themselyes. Some of the latter have done
well and some ill, as must always be the
case in large families. We have ne'er-do-
wells amongst our girls' husbands, and
wasters amongst our boys, but there is no
grave — for we have our dead — which I need
avoid passing by reason of remembered neg-
lect or coldness.
The worst trial we had amongst them all
was Stephen, but he died with his head on
Joan's shoulder, and his hand clasping mine.
I did my best for them all, and though
sometimes I think that best might have
been better, had I either not married at all
or married differently — still I cannot be
quite sure — and as I did marry my wife
there can be no earthly use in speculating
upon the question.
The way I came to marry her was, that
it seemed to be expected of me. People
20 My Last Love.
may say this is no valid reason for taking a
wife — but thousands of men marry for no
other. There is a great deal of talk about
love at the present time — more than there
used to be in the days when youths and
maidens had better opportunities of seeing
one another, and grew fonder accordingly ;
but looking round on my acquaintances
and observing men's wives, I can come to
no other conclusion than that partners for
life are selected much after the fashion in
which a house is taken.
For some reason or other a wife is desired,
and if a man cannot just find what he
wants or what suits him, or that somebody
else steps in and takes it over his head, he
puts up with what he can get. And
perhaps in time the wife, being his own, he
comes to like her — or, perhaps, being his
own, he grows to dislike her — anyhow, the
choice has been made and the woman taken,
and then there being no help for it, when
we see a poor wretch trying vainly to make
/ Propose. 2 1
the best of a bad bargain, we insist with a
bitter irony that he married for love.
I did not at any rate — and yet society
has always been good enough to suppose so
— to think me such a fool, in fact, as to ima-
gine had I married for love I should not
have married something very different.
There are people who even now admire Mrs.
Luttrell — vastly — she is younger than I, and
has worn considerably better. Some ten
years ago her portrait appeared on the Aca-
demy walls, and she really looked hand-
somer then than T had ever thought her be-
fore, which might certainly be owing to the
artist's kindness. That portrait now hangs
in a recess on one side of our dining-room
mantelpiece, and always seems looking round
into the other in search of another portrait,
which shall never be painted, that of your
humble servant ; and I will say it is a tole-
rably faithful likeness of a lady most men
might be proud of calling wife.
She is what is generally known as a " fine
22 My Last Love,
woman " (I wonder men will use tlie phrase
or women tolerate it), large, with a certain
stateliness of carriage and empressement of
manner. Girls, looking at her with a certain
awe, think her, nevertheless, delightful ; but
boys, amongst whom the bump of reverence
is not so largely developed as is the case
with their sisters, never seem to feel quite
at ease in her presence.
During the whole of our married life her
prudence and discretion have been beyond
all praise. Admired, she has yet not flirted,
and I have never lost five minutes of my
natural rest owing to any jealous misgivings
concerning her. Further, she has borne me
sons and daughters — two of the former and
three of the latter — and has ruled my house-
hold, if not — well, shall we say econo-
mically — at least with a due regard to what
the world expected from people in our
position. Perhaps, indeed, with an over
regard; but it would be ungenerous to carp
at trifles, or to blame a lady for keeping up
/ Propose. 23
with the pace of the times in which her lot
has been cast.
"With one exception also, we have never
quarrelled. We have been admirably polite
and discreetly fond; all things, therefore,
considered, as marriages go, I did not marry
amiss, but it would be folly to say it was a
No. I considered Miss Sherlock a good,
handsome, young lady, who made herself
immensely agreeable to me, and whose
father, mother, brothers, sisters, uncles,
aunts, friends, acquaintances, and self,
thought I ought to propose for her. Which
after much delay and consideration, and
many doubts as to my own prudence, I
We will pause here for a moment if you
please, dear reader, and argue this matter a
little out. We can do so with perfect im-
punity, since my wife is not aware I am the
aut hor of this true tale, and if she were she
would not read it. Years ago, indeed, she
24 M^y Last Love.
used to devour every line I wrote, but that
was in the days when she had an object to
gain by such unwonted mental exercise, and
having gained her object, she is little likely
to retraverse the means used to compass it.
I had doubts as to my prudence, if you
remember ; those doubts are now certainties.
Better have waited — better have murmured
no word of love till something like the old
feeling stirred within me again. It may be
— God knows I have never seen her — that
somewhere on the world's wide surface I
might have met another Eose, whom I could
have gathered and won.
I have a fancy that a man's first chance is
not necessarily his last, and this idea, though
unwarranted by my own experience, has yet
received considerable confirmation from the
experience of others.
Women tell me that they were first wooed
because they recalled some long ago memory.
Men say they chose because there was a
tone, a look, a gesture, a smile which
reminded them of the dream -love departed.
If I went wooing again — which Heaven
forbid — I do not think I should mention to
Grace the charm I find in her golden tresses
is their resemblance to those which a quarter
of a century ago constituted the chief beauty
of Maud ; yet such confidences are vouch-
safed to the beloved objects, and as a rule
during courtship they do not resent it ; the
words uttered and the remarks made in the
Hades of Matrimony, it is impossible to con-
jecture, for from that bourne no traveller
returns ; the secrets of that Afterwards are
never revealed save in the Divorce Court
— and there but imperfectly.
My impression, however, is, that if the
man be wise^ he consigns Maud's memory
to oblivion when he weds Grace — but of
course I cannot tell.
All I do know is, that even had Miss
Sherlock resembled Eose, I should have
maintained a discreet silence on the subject.
But she did not resemble her in the least.
26 My Last Love,
And this it seems to me now was just my
mistake. Given tliat I married at all, I
should have married some one like Eose,
whom I could have loved, first for the old
love's sake, and afterwards drawn closer and
closer to my heart for her own. A man's
first love is his ideal love, and the real
should always come as near the ideal as
Sometimes — mine has been a lonely life,
mentally I mean most part of it — sometimes
when I am walking along the streets, or
sitting here in my chambers, or indulging —
slippers on my feet and the ^ Times ' ready
to my hand — in that mild cigar against
which Mrs. Luttrell inveighs as is the fashion
of ladies after marriage, I wonder whether
there be not in some remote district, or wast-
ing her sweetness in the populous solitude
of a London street, a second Eose whose life
might have been all the happier had we met
and married, whose fragrance would have
been precious to me, whom I could have
/ Propose. 27
tended with loving care, who would have
proved the blessing of my life, who could
have supplied just that something my
existence has always lacked, who would
have seemed the dear house angel, for whose
fluttering dress and soft clinging arms and
gentle caresses my soul has longed in the
house of her earthly bondage.
And this feeling does not arise from any
sort of conceit, or over-weening idea of my
own capacity for making a woman happy.
It is just that I think there must be some
place — a heart now broken, possibly, that
would have understood the workings of mine
— a woman who might under different cir-
cumstances have glided to my vacant hearth,
and kindled there a fire which should not
have been extinguished till my pulses were
stilled for ever ; whilst I in my turn could
have filled a void in her life, shielded her,
sheltered her, kept her safe within my arms
from sorrow and sin, from trouble and regret.
She may have, or may not have had an
My Last Love.
existence, this second Eose, but it has never
fallen to my lot to behold her ; thank God.
Being married, I say this out of the depth
of my gratitude, for had we met, there would
then have begun one of those struggles from
which let a man flee never so soon, never so
far, he is sure to come forth worsted. As it
is, I can truthfully declare I know no woman
I like in the least degree better than my wife.
Save once she never had any reason to com-
plain of any one stepping between us and
stealing away my affections, and on that occa-
sion she mistook the position as ladies un-
blessed by a real grievance are often apt to do.
''I have been the best of husbands," so
Mrs. Sherlock always kindly informs me,
when her nature is softened and her heart
opened by that Christmas cheer — which for-
tunately for her digestion comes but once a
year, — ^' I cannot tell you how grateful I feel
to God for having been so good to — "
Whereat I step back guiltily, feeling that
from my point of view, I have not been a
good husband, and that God, Whose blessing
the old lady invokes as usual when we part
after the festive meeting, which always takes
place at Mr. Sherlock's house on the 25th of
December — knows it.
They think I have done my best — done
more, perhaps, than most — but conscience
fails for a few hours to be quieted, never-
theless. I strive to think I have given my
wife all she wanted, all she cared for, or
could understand ; but Imowing with what
a capacity for domestic happiness Heaven
gifted me, spite of the cold cheerless, unsatis-
factory life I have led, I turn away from my
own sophistry appalled at the bare idea of a
flower which never longed for the sunbeams
to fall on it ; of a human being who should
be quite content to pass through this world
without craving for that fulness of bliss that
can be contained only in one sentence — ^^ I
love — I am beloved."
It is quite in vain I tell myself she knows
no better, for at all events I should have
30 My Last Love.
tried to teach her — I, whose wooing was of
the calmest description, and who had won
her consent long before I thought it worth
my while to ask for it.
How she, or any woman, could ever have
been satisfied with such love-making by
such a lover baffles my comprehension, but
then Catharine Sherlock had no knowledge
of that sweet folly in which Eose and I
indulged when we strolled through fields
yellow with buttercups, or stood idly by the
rippling river. First a London nursery,
then a school-room presided over by a strict
governess, kept duly up to the mark by a
still stricter mother ; then a finishing semi-
nary, then London parties, London acquaint-
ances, London amusements — the usual sort
of life led by girls of her rank, and also of a
much higher rank in London — that was her
experience ; never a child — never a girl —
she, I will be bound had always from her
babyhood upwards behaved herself as a
'' young lady" should.
/ Propose. 3 1
She would have delighted the heart of
Lady Surry, and yet I am much mistaken if
when her own mother looked upon the work
of her hands, she felt quite satisfied with it.
Mrs. Sherlock's work never satisfied me ;
so, perhaps, I maybe considered slightly
prejudiced in the matter.
Speaking from experience, I should say,
there is no house which a man about to
marry, or likely ever to be in a position to
marry, should shun like that inhabited by
Paterfamilias blessed with a family of hand-
some grown and growing up daughters.
With one daughter the net is spread in sight
of the bird, but with several he is lured on
with successive crumbs, until lo I a con-
straining hand is felt, and he understands
the moment of his capture has arrived.
I walked into the snare with my eyes
wide open. I said to myself no woman
should ever hear a word of love from me
again, and feeling myself so utterly heart-
whole, or rather utterly heart-wrecked, I
^2 My Last Love.
gradually dropped into my old relations with
the Sherlock family; dined with them on
Sundays occasionally, dropped in frequently,
^^ when passing," in the evenings ; escorted
the '' girls " and their mamma to flower-
shows ; got boxes for the opera, and duly ap-
peared there once more dancing attendance
on the Sherlocks. I cannot, looking back
upon the whole business, now imagine what
possessed me to be so foolish. I cannot con-
ceive why I went to the Sherlocks, unless,
indeed, it might be that having all my life
been accustomed to female society, I welcomed
their sort of companionship when a better
was beyond my reach.
There is something charming to a parti-
cular class of mind about the mere chatter
of a lot of women ; something in the grace
and refinement of calm home life irresistible
to mei^ of a certain nature.
After my hard work — for I did work
hard even in those days, though not with
that persistent labour which success has
/ Propose. 33
since necessitated — the sight of the girls in
their pretty muslin dresses ; the perfume of
the flowers in the drawing-room, and the
sound of their grand piano, on which Julia,
the youngest, was no mean performer ; the
talk about trifles ; about the little odds and
ends that make up the sum and substance
of a fortunate woman's life ; all those things,
I say, were pleasant to me ; they were the
vague reflex of a home I had left ; the dim
realization of an ideal home I was never
destined to possess ; and, as we love the
sound of a familiar air, even though it be
sung by an indifferent performer, so this
similitude, unsatisfactory as it might be, of
an imaginary Paradise, lured me on, lured
me from my dull chambers to the abode of
Mr. Sherlock, where, sooth to say, my wel-
come was ever of the most cordial description.
As has been previously intimated, Mr.
Sherlock formed a high estimate of my
chances of success at a very early period of
our acquaintance, and assuredly it was not
VOL. III. D
34 ^y Last Love,
his fault that I failed to command fortune
at an earlier period of this story.
A shrewd individual, and blessed with so
many daughters that he could afford to
bestow them without sorrow on likely
husbands more easily than dower them with
sufficient wealth to ensure their being able
possessed of a good competence to roam
through life in maiden meditation, fancy
free, he looked on every man he met with a
sort of double interest.
The new-comer might be a possible lover
or a probable client. Supposing him unlikely
to become the last, Mr. Sherlock was willing
to take into consideration his means of sus-
taining the first character ; and, given that
he could not be the first, Mr. Sherlock had
no objection to entertaining him well, in faith
that after many days his bread should be
If a new acquaintance seemed able and
willing to play both characters, then, of
course, Mr. Sherlock opened his arms to
/ Propose. 35
Mm all the more readily ; but prizes of this
description are not frequently landed on the
matrimonial shore, and none of the Misses
Sherlock married quite as in my opinion
they ought to have done, considering the
numerous " advantages," social, educational,
and moral, which they had enjoyed.
In other words, calculating the amount of
capital sunk in them, I think the young
ladies did not return a fair amount of in-
terest ; but, after all, there is three per cent,
certain, and an hundred per cent, risky;
wherefore, perhaps, Mr. Sherlock's daughters
were just as safe on their comparatively
limited incomes as they might have been
had they shot up matrimonially like rockets,
only to the end that they might come down
again like sticks.
All this long digression is intended to
explain how it happened that Mr. and Mrs.
Sherlock took kindly to me, and made no
sort of objection when in due time. Miss
Sherlock took more kindly still. I^either
36 My Last Love.
were they, after the fashion of the parents
mentioned in Alan-a-Dale, steel and stone
when, after much exercise of spirit, I asked
them to make me the happiest man in
They never ^'lifted the latch, and bade
me begone." They only said they gave
dear Catharine to me in the fullest con-
fidence. I have often wished since their
faith had been less, or my good qualities
not so apparent.
Not unwarned, either, did I walk into the
noose matrimonial; on the contrary, my
mother frequently trusted that I would
not marry or engage myself precipitately.
She did not approve of early marriages
unless suitable in every respect ; she thought
a rising man should wait until he attained a
certain position before choosing, and so
forth; while Joan openly hoped I never
would make that odious Miss Sherlock her
As for the old lady in Queen Anne Street,
she rather encouraged the idea. IsTow her
/ Propose. 37
money was gone, she felt thankful for such
slight attentions as the Sherlocks con-
siderately showed her; further, other ac-
quaintances having cooled and dropped off,
she delighted in the Sherlocks' visits, which
broke the monotony of her life, and brought
to her very arm-chair news and gossip which
she could by no other manner of means have
contrived to hear.
^^It will be a very good match for you
indeed," Mrs. Graham was wont to remark,
and when I replied —
" I have no intention of marrying at all,"
she shook her head gravely, and said '•'- she
trusted I did not mean to wear the willow
all my life for the sake of a girl who evi-
dently had not cared twopence about me."
Further, she expressed her belief that if I
did not marry Miss Sherlock, I ought to
marry her ; and that if I had not proposed
for her, or did not propose soon, those con-
sequences which were sure to ensue would
be fully deserved by me.
38 My Last Love,
To what consequences Mrs. Graham re-
ferred I have not to this moment an idea ;
but still, these vague hints of something
fearful looming in the future filled me with
a terrible alarm — all the greater, perhaps, by
reason of its very vagueness.
Fact is, I had long been drifting down
that river which falls into the matrimonial
sea — drifting too, without excuse, merely
because I was too cowardly and too irreso-
lute to take oar and pull back against the
When I thought of Mrs. Sherlock's black
looks, and the '' explanation " on which Mr.
Sherlock would naturally insist — when I
considered the time Miss Sherlock had
wasted upon my unworthy self, and reflected
concerning the strictures of her friends,,
who would' be sure to say, and justly,
that I had used her shamefully — retreat
I was not afraid of a ''breach of promise "
action. Even had such cases been as common
/ Propose, 39
then as they are now, Mr. Sherlock was much
too wise a man and considerate a father to
risk damaging his daughters' future by any
proceedings of that nature ; but I was afraid
I had so far committed myself, that nothing
remained save for me to proceed further, and
commit myself yet more.
That the Sherlocks expected me to pro-
pose, was patent to the meanest comprehen-
sion. Often her sisters — evidently instructed
so to do — left us alone together, and there
are no more fearful memories in my life than
that of those half-hours when Catharine and
I talked on indifferent subjects — she mo-
mentarily anticipating the coming of my
request, and I knowing she was waiting for
Those sisters — once more, young man,
strong in your youth and your vanity, avoid
a house where there are daughters — were as
so many nails in my coffin. Whenever one
seemed loose, they struck it on the head,
and drove it home. Without their help,
40 My Last Love,
Catharine Sherlock had never become my
wife — with it, I am her most devoted
At last I did it ; I felt happier after, for
the deed was accomplished — the matter off
my mind. And the time and the manner
was as follows : —
Finding their house in Upper Malcolm
Street too small, ostensibly for their family —
but, really, too small for the enlarging views
of that family — Mr. Sherlock took a house
in Huntingdon Square. Perhaps, reader,
you may chance to know it, but, for the
benefit of those who do not, I will state that
it lies in what is now the I^orth Western
District of London — very West of North
indeed ; that it is out of the way of every
place; that even at this present hour it is
fairly fashionable, and altogether, and in all
respects, it was eminently unsuitable for a
professional man blessed with a very certain
number of girls, whose fortunes were en-
tirely dependent on his exertions.
/ Propose. 41
However, Mr. Sherlock took the house,
and Mrs. Sherlock gave a large party in
honour of their entering into possession, to
which I was duly bidden.
Never had Catharine looked to such ad-
vantage. Amongst a number of pretty girls,
she was the prettiest — decidedly the belle of
the room. So I heard people observing as
we whirled round to the music of one of
"What a handsome couple!" "En-
gaged." "When is it to be?" These
sentences were spoken in loud whispers,
and, after T had led Miss Sherlock to a seat,
one gentleman, an old attorney, whose good-
will I was anxious to conciliate, seized me
by the hand, and asked if he might con-
gratulate me ?
"Not yet," I answered; "but I hope
some day." And then I determined to
make the plunge that night, and, as every
one expected me to propose, fulfil those
42 My Last Love.
But for the ball-dress, and the lights, and
the music, and the dancing, and the — cham-
pagne — I do not think I could have done it
after all ; but she looked so soft and graceful,
and feminine, in her skirts, and puffings, and
ribbons, and flowers, that for the time the
other figure, which rarely left me, yanished
away, and I saw nothing but a beautiful
woman, who loved me as much as she could
love anything, and who, in answer to my
whispered " Catharine," blushed crimson,
but never withdrew her hand.
We were standing at the moment in a
conservatory, the plants in which formed
a sort of screen between us and the ball-
I can see it all now — Catharine, for the
first time, timid, and a little shrinking — the
dancers going as fast as their legs could
carry them, whilst the band played ^^The
Spirit of the Ball." I see the aloes and the
orange-trees, through the branches of which
there peeps for a moment the half-angry
/ Propose. 43.
face of a girl, between whom and myself
there have been' certain small flirtations
on occasions like the present. I loosen
Catharine's hand, and lay mine on my heart
to induce the girl to think I had been only
playing at love-making; then the face
vanishes, and I draw near again, and say,
" We were watched, Catharine — I may call
you so, may I not ?"
She says nothing, for this is not a pro-
posal, and the young lady has been well
trained, so I proceed to extremities, and ask
if some day she will let me call her "wife V
which being definite enough in all con-
science, she murmurs ''yes," and ''papa."
And thus I became engaged, for it is
needless to remark that "papa," whose
consent I asked before leaving the house,
was more than willing, while mamma and
the girls — not including Catharine — kissed
me at parting; but the next day I went
into the park, and stood in a retired place
till I saw Walter Surry's carriage pass.
44 ^^y Last Love,
Then I said to myself, ^^ Good-bye, dear
love — good-bye, bright dream," and turned
me to the new life, into which I swore no
thought of Eose Surry should enter.
THE " HAPPIEST DAY OF I^IY LIFE."
"We were not married so soon as I could
have wished, for Mr. Sherlock thought I
had better get a little ^^ before the world''
ere taking unto myself a wife, and it is only
a just testimony to the admirable prudence
and wisdom of my fiancee^ to add that she
thought so too.
Now, being '^before the world" meant,
in Mr. Sherlock's dictionary, a certain sum
of money so invested as to be easily got at
if need arose, say at profitable interest in
the three per cents. ; a policy of assurance,
and a well-furnished house, freehold if pos-
46 My Last Love,
sible, if not leasehold at a nominal rent ; but
in consideration of the fact that I had still
my way to push, and had every prospect of
pushing it to some purpose, he consented to
waive the three per cents, and freehold
business, and only stipulated that I should
insure my life in some sound office, approved
by him, and provide a comfortable home for
Catharine before I married her.
When a man chances to be the over-
worked father of many daughters, it is
natural that he should dread any one of them
coming home empty-handed in the event of
widowhood ; and had Catharine been called
upon in the early days of our married life to
weep beside my death-bed, as I doubt not
she would have done most decorously, I can
fancy comfort mingling with her grief at
thought of that three thousand pounds, on
which the poor dear fellow had only paid
Whether, before the day of his marriage,
it is exactly pleasant that a man shall be
The ^' Happiest Day of my LifeP 47
compelled to contemplate as an imminent
possibility the day of his death, is a question
on which I do not now propose to enter.
For my own part, I have always believed
that fathers-in-law elect receive a commission
from the insurance companies, and that in
this way, inverting Shakespeare, the pro-
spective funeral meats furnish forth the
present bridal feast; but then as my wife
says, I am peculiar, which may well be,
though Heaven knows I do not think I am
one half so peculiar as the men and the
women amongst whom my lot is cast.
Further, she says I was always peculiar,
which also may well be, seeing I insured my
life in the interests of — furnished a house to
please the tastes of — and finally married — a
woman for whom I can honestly declare I
cared no more, or rather less, than I do for
the lady who may read this paragraph, since
the latter does me the honour to scan what
I have written, while my wife decidedly
prefers the works of those popular authors
whom she knows only by repute.
48 My Last Love.
No man, somebody says, is a hero to his
valet de cliamhre. I am sure no writer is to
his home circle, save by virtue of the pounds,
shillings and pence his writings produce.
^^How much are you to have for that,
dear?" says Fond Affection, sitting by the
hearth; and when you inform her, she
replies, evidently liking the sum, but con-
sidering it beyond your deserts —
^' I wish I could write ;" implying there-
by that if she merely possessed your fool-
ish knack of authorship, she could produce
something worth buying.
'-'- 1 wish you could," says the unfortunate
hack in answer, thinking at the same time
if she were able to indite anything besides
an ungrammatical letter, she would under-
stand what weary work it all is, what tiring,
unsatisfactory, never-ending, always begin-
ning work it seems, once the glamour is
removed, and the illusory mist of distance
dispelled, and a man comes to understand
the exact meaning of the word author, as
The ^^ Happiest Day 0/ my Life^ 49
leamt from long and close personal ex-
perience with it.
But I wander away from the Life Policy,
which — after making various statements
about my father and mother, and brothers
and sisters, and being kneaded and pounded
all over by a terrible man with knuckles
like the pebbles wherewith David slew
Goliath, who wormed the secret of my
engagement out of me, and then grew
maddeningly facetious over it — was duly
For over twenty years I have paid that
premium, and grumbled about doing it.
"But then you might have died," says
the secretary, with whom I have the honour
of being acquainted.
"But I haven't," I suggest.
'^Are you sorry?'' he asks.
"Well, upon the whole, 'yes.' I think I
should like to have had my innings out of
something, even an insurance office."
VOL. ni. E
50 My Last Love,
'^ Ah ! Mr. Luttrell, just the same as ever,"
'^ Just the same," I agree, and walk out
of the office, muttering to myself, however,
"Just the same Luttrell circumstances made
me, but not the Luttrell I should have been,
taking Eose to wife without any of these
That is the difference, you perceive,
between marrying one's first love, and
forming a matrimonial alliance with one's
The first is apple blossom and moonshine
— murmuring streams and the sweetest
ballad in the world, as it seemed then, as it
seems still to memory. The second is a
carpet warehouse — wholesale if possible —
one of Collard's pianos, procured through a
professional friend at ostensibly trade prices;
a house Lord So-and-So would have taken
had there only been sufficient accommoda-
tion for his domestics, and the means of
giving one party at least every season so
The ''^Happiest Day of my LifeP 51
thronged, that numbers were unable ' to
ascend the staircase. All this Catharine has
compassed, and I can only hope she is satis-
fied with it. I am not quite ; but then, as
the treasure of my heart remarks, she does
not know what would satisfy me.
Nor do I — though, perhaps, looking back
I have a fancy what might have once — but
then, who can tell ?
Better, possibly, for me and my darling
that we separated while the dew still
trembled on the flowers. I might not have
made her so happy as I would. And some-
times, sitting here alone, I think that if the
sorrow I can remember stamped upon her
face, the tears I have seen her shed, had
been caused by any act of mine, I could not
bear the curse of life, but just end it with as
little unnecessary pain to my family and
myself as might be.
But I was to forget Eose, or at least to
cease dreaming about, and speaking of her ;
both of which feats I might have performed
52 My Last Love.
more easily, had Mr. Sherlock permitted me
to marry earlier and with less fuss concern-
ing ways and means. As it chanced, the
contrast between the things Catharine con-
sidered essentials, and the modest content-
ment of Sir Humphrey Surry's daughter, kept
the old sore open. I felt, by reason of the
amount of outfit required, that I was about
taking a journey into a very strange and
inhospitable land, the ways of which were
not my ways, the inhabitants of which
believed not in such matters as love and
pure simplicity, but worshipped rather
society and Mrs. Grundy, and were in-
credulous concerning happiness that rented
a house at a lower sum than the social trade
union had fixed on as the smallest a gentle-
man might pay.
Nevertheless, I never swerved in my
fidelity to Miss Sherlock. Never once did a
thought of selling off my poor worldly
effects, paying my few debts, taking my
passage to America, and placing the At-
The *^ Happiest Day of my LifeP 53
lantic between me and my charmer, cross
I meant to marry, and to push my way
up, for the sake of myself and my family.
I had not then drunk my drop of the cup of
worldly prosperity, and the draught seemed
desirable. Unable to compass love and fame,
I resolved at least to grasp the latter.
Those who had a right to be most in-
terested in my future happiness were satis-
fied with my choice.
'^It was a good thing on the whole," my
mother said at last; while my father re-
marked — '' Perhaps it was as well, Tom,
Eosie did marry her cousin. She would
never have made a wife for a poor man."
"It is the most sensible piece of work
you ever did," declared Mrs. Graham, "and
I am proud of you, Tom Luttrell." Whilst
nothing could exceed the affectionate demon-
strations of Mrs. Sherlock and the girls, or
the kind interest Mr. Sherlock took in me
and my affairs.
54 ^y Last Love.
Joan only did not like it.
"Yon are certain, Tom, you have not
been in too great a hurry," she asked, as
we walked together up and down the little
plot of garden ground which the Southgate
Then I replied, a little sharply —
"Joan, I have asked Miss Sherlock to be
my wife, and that is the same as if she were
already my wife ; so you must never say^
anything like that again. Do you under-
Whereupon Joan sighed, and answered
" Yes, I think I understand better even
" I want to be settled," I said reading her
thought and resenting it. "I shall be glad
when Mr. Sherlock gives his consent to my
But Joan did not answer this time. She
only remained aggravatingly silent, offering
up, I imagine, a solemn petition that Mr^
The ''''Happiest Day of my LifeP 55
Sherlock might never give his consent, and
that I might never marry Miss Sherlock.
But the petition was not granted. In
due time I had made enough to furnish a
house, which Mrs. Sherlock approved, from
garret to cellar, even in matters which it
then seemed to my bachelor ignorance pre-
mature to consider ; but she was wise in her
generation, and I am bound to say her fore-
sight in the matter of our accommodation
was justified by results.
I had found a house then, built, so it
seemed, to meet every exigency of our
possible future. Catharine selected the fur-
niture — I should advise any man about to
marry to insist -on the young lady doing so,
as she cannot in that case well fijid fault
with it afterwards — and I think she and her
mamma bought everything, down to a dozen
skewers, which could be needed in an esta-
lishment. The life insurance, as hath been
already stated, was duly effected. I had
held some good briefs, and there appeared
56 My Last Love,
every prospect of more following; in
fact, I was at length, even from Mr.
Sherlock's amended point of view, in a
position to marry, and accordingly the day
was fixed, and Catharine's wedding-dress
It was of white satin, and did not become
her. It requires a peculiar woman to stand
white satin. Even Eose would have found
it a trial, but then I should have chosen her
dress, or influenced it no doubt, whilst Miss
Sherlock, influenced solely by herself, se-
lected hers without the slightest reference to
Perhaps, as a professional advertisement —
perhaps, because he was overjoyed to re-
member that a man had at length been
found to marry one of his daughters — per-
haps, because, having that three thousand
pounds always in his memory, he knew it
was about the last thing he would ever be
called on to do for her, Mr. Sherlock resolved
that the nuptials of my Catharine should be
The ''^Happiest Day of my Life P 57
on a scale of magnificence undreamed of
hitherto in Huntingdon Square.
To describe the preparations which were
made in Mr. Sherlock's house, at Mr.
Sherlock's expense, in anticipation of the
wedding, would be utterly beyond my
ability. The whole of the inhabitants of
the Square were indeed kept on the qui vive
for some weeks previous to the ceremony.
Now it was the florist come in a light van to
take his orders, now the confectioner, now
the individual who was to find rout seats for
the evening ball, further, large bandboxes,
and young women of the millinery persua-
sion being followers of fashion and latest
bonnet novelty, prevailed in the hall, whilst
in the drawing-room I heard of nothing save
tulle and tarletan, silks and laces.
My adored one was accompanied to the
altar by twelve bridesmaids, six of whom
were arrayed in pink and white, and six in
blue and white, a device of Joan's, who
thereby secured to herself by some means
58 My Last Love,
the privilege — not hard to wrest — of paying
for the attire of herself and sisters. Sinc^
those days, I have some reason to believe
their flowing robes were paid for also by
Mr, Sherlock; but as Mrs. Sherlock never
found the matrimonial purse-strings too
much relaxed for her benefit, we may
forgive her this slight deception, which
did not do much harm to Joan, or to Mr.
Sherlock, seeing neither was acquainted
with it, but which did furnish forth a
new dress or tv^o for the next aspirant
to matrimonial honours.
How Joan ever managed to pay for those
dresses puzzles me to this hour. She did
not come to me for a cheque, and further^
she and my father and mother, and the
younger fry, severally presented Miss Sher-
lock with appropriate if not expensive gifts,
which were duly laid out, with other tokens
of affection, on the drawing-room table, and
elicited a considerable amount of admira-
The '' Happiest Day of my Life^ 59
It was like a dream to me — more like a
dream than any experience of my life, when
I stood before the altar-rails vowing to take
Catharine — to have and to hold her. People,
I understand, did not consider my self-
possession perfect on the memorable occa-
sion ; but then, men are sometimes not so
calm in the presence of danger as the softer
sex, and whatever may have been my short-
comings in the matter of confidence, they
were amply redeemed by the admirable
bearing of the bride. Then, as since, on
the occasions of christenings, dinner-parties,
death-beds, and so forth, Catharine behaved
herself to perfection.
Her voice was neither too loud nor too
low ; and when, the ceremony over, we re-
paired to the vestry, the manner in which
she kissed her mother and friends without
disarranging the folds of her veil, or the
lace on her dress, was worthy of all com-
For the last time she signed in a neat
6o My Last Love.
ladylike hand her name, Catharine Sherlock;
and then, a little impatient perhaps of the
kissing and congratulations, I asserted my
newly-acquired rights, and drawing her
hand within my arm, walked off with my
wife to the carriage that awaited our
The other carriages rapidly followed, and
after an interval employed by the ladies in
admiring the presents, and by the men, as I
have cause to believe, in ^' doing sherry and
seltzer," we all went solemnly and slowly
downstairs to breakfast.
I wish I had sufficient ability to repro-
duce before the reader's imagination that
wedding-breakfast as it is photographed on
my memory ; for the absurdity of the whole
affair impressed me vastly, though Heaven
knows I never felt in a less laughing
humour than when it became necessary for
me to return thanks for the beautiful, grace-
ful, and accomplished bride, and myself.
True I went to the altar a willing sacri-
The '"''Happiest Day of my Lije^ 6i
fice, but still it did not seem to me exactly a
fitting occasion for merry-making. I might
have felt differently had Eose been my bride,
but then Eose was not my bride, which made
all the difference. The match could not be
regarded other than remarkably suitable in
every respect save one, and I knew this.
^Nevertheless though the grand mansion in
Tyburnia, furnished throughout by the best
London upholsterers, and decorated with
that pure taste for which Englishmen are so
remarkable, may be, in the world's opinion
and your own, a most desirable residence, it
cannot quite come up to the beauty of the
air-palace you built, lying under the beech-
trees on that summer afternoon long ago.
And this was just my case. I felt Miss
Sherlock was my reality, and Eose my illu-
sion; but while acknowledging the great
blessing Providence had given me, I did not
feel inclined to sing a psalm of thanksgiving
over the razing of my dream-castle to the
62 My Last Love,
Nevertlieless, as I have said, the absurdity
of the whole afiair struck me forcibly, as
anything ridiculous always does strike one
most forcibly at the most solemn seasons.
That so many people should have been in-
vited to witness our launch filled my soul,
when I beheld them seated round Mr. Sher-
lock's table, with surprise not unmingled
with awe. I could not tell what the day
seemed like. It was not like a Sunday, nor
yet a week-day; it had not the ghastly
cheerfulness of Christmas, nor the bright-
ness of Easter. Eather, it appeared to
me a cross between Good Friday and
a morning performance at Drury Lane. I
had a sense of being out for the occasion
unlawfully, and I kept wondering what all
those people would do after we left them ;
how they would occupy the time till they
returned to the grand ball wherewith Mr.
and Mrs. Sherlock meant to celebrate the
event of a new member being added to the
The ^^ Happiest Day of 7ny LifeP 63
There were men and women present who
had long outlived the illusions of youth, if
their youth ever held any ; there were hus-
bands who had made their wives' hearts
ache, and wives who, after twenty years of
matrimony, still lacked information on that
useful branch of knowledge — how to make
home happy ; and yet these people, utterly
ignorant as to whether our venture might
not turn out as badly as theii' own, sat at
that marriage feast, and smiled and ate, as
though there were no such things as un-
happiness and indigestion on earth.
They were '-'- drest in all their best," in
order to see me take my Sally abroad, and I
should think much money must have changed
hands in order to effect such gorgeous results;
so that in our small way we benefited trade,
and I feel no doubt but that the confectioner
who provided the breakfast, and the hired
waiters who ministered to the wants of ex-
hausted humanity, rose up and called me
blessed for having married Miss Sherlock.
64 My Last Love. "
Amongst the guests were two authors,
one of whom, with that reverence for the
sanctity of private life that distinguishes
some votaries of literature, reproduced the
scene in one of his clever novels, only
changing our names, our rank, and the
place of our abode. In his hands Mr. Sher-
lock became Sir Joseph Shylock, who,
having made his money by discounting bills
at two hundred per cent., stood for some
borough far distant from the scene of his
early struggles, was duly returned, made
himself necessary to the then government,
and earned for his reward the honours of
Too great a man ostensibly to continue
the bill-discounting business, he neverthe-
less, sul rosa^ lent money to those younger
and elder sons, who had either money in
expectation, or friends in the background.
Sir Joseph never appeared in any of these
transactions himself, but employed as jackal
a man in his confidence, in comparison to
The ^' Happiest Day of my Life^ 65
"whom the knight was honesty and simplicity
This man, Carew by name, young in years
but old in wickedness, in consideration
of the hold he possessed over Sir Joseph,
was promised one of the daughters in mar-
riage — a beautiful creature, secretly ena-
moured of a marvellously clever poet. How
the story proceeded space will not permit
me to relate in detail, only the end of it all
was, that Shylock and Carew came to grief
owing to a little accident in connection with
the signature of a noble Marquis, and that
the clever poet who possessed a knowledge
of business and law — vague possibly, but
yet remarkable withal in one of so dreamy
and romantic a nature — put such a pressure
upon lover and father, that the hand of the
beauteous Eachel was bestowed upon him,
together with an infinite number of fat
I have read that novel quite through, not
VOL. III. P
66 My Last Love,
'^Jenkins always draws his characters
from the life," say the critics, '^ and therein
lies the principal charm of his rare genius."
Having sat unconsciously for one of his
characters, I can only add I hope his people
are not considered like life.
As for his rare genius — well, perhaps I
had better pass that on without asking you,
reader, to swallow as much of it as Mr.
Sherlock's guests did of champagne.
For me I drank but little, and yet
when I rose to return thanks for Catharine
and myself the room seemed to be spinning
round and the people with it. Accustomed
I was to public speaking, but this private
speaking across the skeletons of fowls and
the .dlhis of salad, over cut-glass and the
best electro-plate, tried my equanimity.
How I got through that speech I do not
know. I held on to the table with both
hands, so that if it went away I might go
also. I told a great many untruths. I
uttered a vast number of truisms. There
The ^''Happiest Day of my Life?'* 67
were cheers, there was laughter ; people
said, ^^ Capital/' and it may have been
capital for aught I know ; all I can now re-
member is that I wound up by declaring it
was the happiest day of my life, at which
statement Mrs. Sherlock looked at me with
an expression of approbation, and wiped
away a tear.
Then even more toasts were given and
more champagne was drunk. After a time
the table became quite steady, and I was
able ultimately to face the fact that Catha-
rine had slipped away to change her dress,
and that the moment when we two were
together to start in reality on our travels
through the world, was at hand.
The trunks were already beside the coach-
man ; the young ladies were already in the
balcony armed with white slippers ; already
a crowd had formed itself on each side of
the hall-door, to witness the bride's exit
from her father's home ; and I stood waiting
for her appearance.
68 My Last Love.
I could not tell you, reader, how my
heart sank at the sound of the rustle of her
dress. If I never knew it before, I knew
then the whole affair was a mistake — a
lamentable mistake for one of us, if not for
both ; and I screwed up my courage to go
out with her for life, as many a man has
done to go out in the chill winter's morning
with Mr. Calcraft and the chaplain.
God forgive me, I felt at that moment
like one who has committed some great and
I went forward to meet her. They thought
I was eager, whereas I was only desperate.
There was some kissing — much kissing in-
deed. Catharine wept on the ample ma-
ternal bosom, and took the starch out of her
father's elaborate shirt-frill.
I liked her better than I had ever done.
After all, it required some confidence for a
girl to put her whole future in a man's
hand, and I vowed to myself I would try
and be good to her.
The ^^ Happiest Day of 7?iy LifeP 69
It was a break, and she felt it. She was
leaving the old familiar life and the tried
friends and the loving parents.
^^ Good-bye, Lnttrell, and be sure to
write." That was my father-in-law.
*^ Good-bye, Thomas. I am quite happy
about my child." That was Mrs. Sherlock,
with the tears trickling down her plump
cheeks. And ^' good-bye, and good-bye,
and good-bye," echoed round, whilst be-
tween a line composed of the very rank and
file of London life, I led my weeping bride
from the house where she had pursued her
maiden meditations on the all-absorbing
maiden theme — ^^ How to get married, and
Swish came down a shower of white
slippers, and a chorus of young voices called
out, '' Good-bye," and '' God speed." The
coachman touched his horses, and we were
off on the journey of life together.
" Compartment ? — Yes, sir, — quite right,
sir, — luggage, — I will see to that, sir."
70 My Last Love,
Thus spoke the guard, locking us up safely
together in a carriage, from which there was
"How could he know?" I asked Catha-
rine ; " and what are the porters grinning
" One of the slippers lodged on the top of
my imperial. Did you not see it ? I did."
And Catharine proceeded, quite systemati-
cally, to see that her belongings were all
safe, and that nothing had been left behind..
" My shepherd' s-plaid shawl ! " she ex-
claimed, "they have forgotten to put that
in." And then, I confess, the whole
affair began to assume a commonplace
We were off ; and I sat thinking. Shall
I make a full and free confession to this
woman, whom I have sworn to love till the
day of my death ? Shall I establish a link
between us — tell her, with God's help I
mean to try and love her more than I ever
loved that other ? Shall I venture on the
The ''''Happiest Day of my LifeP 71
dangerous ground of being frank with a wife
and that on our wedding-day ?
^'I do hope," Catharine broke in at this
juncture, while the express tore along, ^' I
do hope they haye not forgotten anything
else. It will be so inconvenient not having
'-'' We can buy another," I answered,
taking her hand, but she had dispelled all
thought of a confession, which had never
since been made till now.
And it was quite as well. I understand
perfectly my Catharine could neither have
comprehended its import, nor borne its re-
"We learn many things as we grow old,
and amongst them the value and virtue of
reticence even towards the wife of our bosom,
concerning the things which lie next our
Some people say that those blissful days
which it is usual to spend as far from home
and a man's ordinary occupation as possible,
are the most trying of married life, and this
may well be so, seeing that it is a serious
experiment to make, that of passing an entire
month alone with anybody — more especially
a new wife — but I did not find my honey-
moon wearisome ; on the contrary, I think
it enabled me to grow more gradually accus-
tomed to the singular fact of being married,
and consequently independent no longer,
than would have been possible had I stepped
^ith Mrs. Luttrell at once into the house
already referred to, whereof my Catharine
had selected the furniture.
It is a great change to aily man to get
married, and one requires some little time to
become quite reconciled to great changes,
whether they be desirable or the reverse.
Therefore, as the thirty days we spent on the
continent were a sort of ante-room where I
was permitted to loiter before entering into
that full state of domestic felicity which
awaited me in England, I shall ever retain a
grateful recollection of the opportunity thus
afforded of coming slowly to a knowledge
of the happiness I might reckon upon in
the life I had — voluntarily, shall I say ? —
During the honeymoon Catharine proved
Jierselfto be just what she has continued
ever since — a woman admirably adapted to
sustain and even advance her husband's social
position — a woman who liked to go and see
jplaces, to the end that she might talk about
74 My Last Love,
them afterwards, but who took no interest in
anything, whether in art or nature, for pure-
love of art or love of nature. In itself I
am quite confident she considered moonlight
then what she considers moonlight now — an
infinitely poorer invention than gas-light ;
that in her heart she greatly preferred the
Parisian shops to any cathedral or picture-
gallery we visited; that she liked much
better going to the theatre than contemplat-
ing the beauties of the Ehine ; and that the
new bonnet she took back with her to Eng-
land, afforded her much more unqualified
pleasure than the memory of any landscape
on which her eyes had rested.
And was I disappointed ? On the contrary.
Here was a wife just fitted for me ; one whose
sensibilities required no delicate handling,
no anxious consideration, who although she-
loved me as much as she knew how, was not
likely to prove exacting and ask for or even
to understand that passionate, all-absorbing^
love which having poured out upon one-
woman I believed I could never give to
Tlie love Eose awoke would only have
amazed and wearied Catharine. Whilst a
man was being brought skilfully on to pro-
posing point, and from that point up to the
culminating point of matrimony, it might
be well enough to humour his sentimental
fancy for quiet walks and talks ; but that a
man and wife should care to be alone, that
they should live out of society, and affect
the company of one another to the exclusion
of desirable acquaintances, were ideas utterly
foreign to the admirably regulated mind of
Catharine Luttrell, nee Sherlock, and as sooth
to say I was not now particularly desirous
of spending a Ufe-a-iefe existence, we suited
each other capitally. She wrote home that
Thomas was the best and most generous
husband in the world ; to which Mrs. Sher-
lock replied, that she had always felt I
would make her treasure happy. Have I
done so ?
7^ My Last Love,
There is one black memory tliat I recall
while tracing these lines, one act of my life
I would give everything I ever possessed or
-am ever likely to possess to be able to undo.
We never talk about it, not even Joan and
I, but it has left a dark track across my
heart, and whatever it may have proved to
Catharine, it has been to me the bitterest and
most unsoothed trouble of a not particularly
Had I spoken to her out of the fulness of
my heart on our wedding-day, as I once
purposed, would that sorrow lie heavy on my
conscience now ? Perhaps not, but the for-
gotten shawl stopped my intended confession,
and thinking of that shawl I sometimes
imagine that not merely the penitence but
also the grief is mine alone ; that I did not
wound her so vitally as I feared, and that I
have fretted myself needlessly over a matter
which possibly never first nor last cost her a
But this comes later in my story. We
could foresee no storm or sign of a storm at
the point I have now reached — our return
to England. Eather everything there be-
tokened and rightly a long continuance of
fair weather. Catharine liked her house,
and, being the mistress of it, she liked
welcoming her mother and sisters in her
drawing-room, and she welcomed them fre-
quently without remonstrance or hindrance
from me ; she liked having plenty of money,
and I gave her all I could spare and worked
hard to get more for her ; she liked being
married to a man whose relations did not
trouble her much and yet remained on
perfectly friendly terms. If bitterness
mingled with her cup, it was because a por-
tion of my income went to maintain the
modest establishment at Southgate. It was
folly for me ever to have told her anything
concerning that, but people entertain some
ridiculous ideas about being quite frank
before marriage, which is the more extra-
ordinary since nobody is frank after, and
78 My Last Love.
not having had the benefit of any previous
connubial experience I made the usual
mistake and consequently have since, on
various occasions, repented my communica-
That is, I used to repent, for there is no
one for me to support or for her to grumble
about now. They are dead, or pushing
their OTm ways in the world, or far be-
yond any help of mine ; but even if this
were not the case Catharine would not
A passage of arms occurred between us
once, when, though I was severely wounded,
she got the worst shock of the encounter.
Since then Catharine has been more sub-
missive, and I — more considerate.
I wonder if she be really happy now ? I
wonder if she ever think ours might have
been a better life — made a better thing out
of, somehow ?
If I could even form an idea of what she
might answer, I would ask her one evening
in the twilight, or when the fire is burning
low, to tell me all she thinks about it, but 1
dread being requested at the supreme mo-
ment to light the gas, or to give her that
work-basket containing those slippers, still
unfinished, of which mention was honour-
ably made in the first pages of ^ My First
We have never been accustomed to talk.
Somebody says, or rather, indeed, a great
many persons say, talking is not conversing
as eating is not dining, which is just one of
those one-sided statements that makes a man
who is not likely to be misled by a neatly
turned sentence, angry, more especially when
he knows by bitter experience that convers-
ing may be as far removed from talking as
dining from eating.
We never talked at any rate. We always
conversed. This habit commenced in our
honeymoon, and it grew stronger with years.
If I were in the most terrible trouble I could
only give my wife the barest outline of facts.
8o My Last Love.
To fill in the details would be a simple im-
possibility — to expatiate on how it affected
me a feat beyond my power. Joan says I
do not even talk to my children, but then
she does not quite understand that if I did
talk to them they would not appreciate the
Yes, taking it altogether mine has been a
lonely life, though I have lived always
amongst people — and a spoiled one, though
I have made money as well as a fair reputa-
tion. It is a strange thing to consider how
desolate one mischance may in reality leave
a man, even while apparently he have made
a very good thing for himself of existence.
If the fates decree that one is to be for fifty
years out of the three score and ten wholly
and solely a denizen of the world as the
world obtains here in London, it might be as
well to have no memories of murmuring
rivulets and quiet woods associated with the
Sentiment, for example, will never em-
bitter the future happiness of my young
people, who I earnestly hope will marry
other young people as purely worldly and
superficial as themselves. One of my sons
has developed a certain talent for literature,
and will, I doubt not, in time favour the
world with various three-volume novels (if
three volumes obtain so long), treating of
that semi-fashionable society which he
knows, and that entirely fashionable society
which he is never likely to know, and in due
time probably I shall appear in print as a
respectable but unapproachable father.
Well, so be it. Children it is said take
after their mother. It is eminently flattering
to my vanity to be quite satisfied none of
mine take after me.
To return, however, to the days when
children were not in my home — neither the
puling infant nor the young gentleman in
knickerbockers — a style of costume that,
despite Mr. Thackeray's dictum and Messrs.
NicolPs advertisement, I detest with a
VOL. III. G
82 My Last Love.
detestation worthy of a better cause — what
can I recollect of those days ? All through
my rambling talk I have been trying to re-
Any memory of home comfort? Perhaps
so : if home comfort mean simply hot and
cold water in one's dressing-room, linen left
out by my wife's maid, for I kept no valet,
dinner fairly cooked and reasonably hot, a
tolerably good glass of wine with and after it,
breakfast to a moment in the morning, I had
home comforts. And the days were gone
when a vision of a sweet face uplifted to
mine, of the loving clasp of a soft hand, of a
dear voice welcoming me after my labour,
was the sum and total of the only home
comfort I ever wished or hoped to realize.
People take to luxury and physical ease
when they find the '' better part" of exist-
ence cannot be possessed by them; so,
failing my dream habitation, which might
have been up three pair of stairs or in
Buckingham Palace for any local habitation
I cared to give it, I was well enough content
to go back evening after evening to a house
where the stairs were covered with the best
and newest Brussels carpeting ; where I
hung up my hat on a highly veneered stand,
resplendent with a most unnecessary looking-
glass; where passing the dining-room door
I could see the table set out in the best style
by our youthful buttons ; where I could
generally hear the tones of Catharine's
grand piano, and where as I entered the
drawing-room, I was usually greeted not
only by my wife, but also by a couple of her
sisters, and sometimes by Mrs. Sherlock
And it did not then strike me as anything
very dreadful that this was all the sort of
home I was ever likely to know. When
a man takes possession of Mrs. Parkins'
first floor (sitting-room with bed-room at
the back and attendance), he does not
fully realize what life in that lady's desir-
able lodgings is certain to prove when weeks
84 My Last Love,
have passed into months and months into
years ; and in like manner when people first
marry they scarcely grasp the fact that it is
for the whole of existence — that they have
made a choice which can never be rescinded
till they stand remorseful beside the death-
bed of that him or her who chances to be-
hnsband or wife, and by the time they have
made this discovery they have '^ got nsed to
it," for great is the force of habit and the
lulling effect of time.
I got used to it. I am used to it. Were
Catharine to die, she would not have a sin-
cerer mourner than myself; but there is
not, I am happy to say, the slightest chance,
speaking humanly, of my survivorship. My
wife has a capital constitution, and takes
good care of it. She eats well, drinks well,
sleeps well, and refrains from all undue
mental excitement. In the future I men-
tally behold her a large, handsome, well-
preserved widow, taking an interest in all
the affairs of this world, and keeping up a
^ort of visiting acquaintance with, those of
the next ; ruling her household to the last
judiciously and serenely ; regretting the
late Mr L. — she speaks of me as Mr. L.
noTV, and though privately objecting strongly
lo the title, I am morally too great a coward
to object publicly to any form of address
*she may be pleased to select.
Time went by, and truly and duly I was
a father and Mrs. Sherlock a grandmother.
Great ceremonies attended the arrival and
christening of that first-born. We were all
perhaps a little unduly excited over the
event, and considered it a stranger incident
than might from the Eegistrar- General's re-
turns have been supposed. Catharine was
one of those women who think it the cor-
rect thing to have a certain number of
children (the more the better), just as they
think it proper to have a large number of
desirable acquaintances on their visiting
list I do not believe she was particularly
fond of children, but she liked to be a
S6 My Last Love.
mother. She liked the fuss which is always
made on these occasions when women are
well off and have plenty of female relations,
— the bustle of preparation, and the excuse
it gave for shopping and spending money,
pleased her inexpressibly ; and when at
length the little one came — a boy, well,
well, it is not for me to throw stones or to
attempt too keenly to analyse what her feel-
ings may have been, for I know when I
went to my chambers that day, I dreamed
another dream even more illusory than my
last, about a son who should be to me what
I had striven to be to my father ; to whom
I could in the after-time talk, as the old
man talked, thank God, to me ; who should
be, if *^ odd,'' faithful, — if ^^ peculiar," in-
telligible, to my understanding : who should
lack nothing my labour and my love might
give him : who should resemble in his
strength and his devotion and his tenderness
Joan who had sat with me and Eose on the
grass by the river-side, and pelted the birds
with cherry-stones, and wandered wild
through the woods and fields, and grown up
finally into the noblest woman I ever knew.
Dreams, friends, — air-castles ; dreams from
which I have since awakened, — air-castles I
have beheld melt gradually away. I love
my children, I hope, but I cannot help see-
ing what they are. Never an one of them
has '-^ strained back '' to unselfishness and a
high ideal of the duties which the very fact
of being placed in this world devolves upon
all men and all women.
They are amiable enough as times go,
and to a certain extent companionable also ;
but they have had everything they wanted,
from their youth up, and I am not sure that
it is a good thing for youth to have every-
thing it wants, and to regard middle and
old age as an anomaly, which is permitted
to exist merely bfecause it has a certain
power of work in it, and can provide the
wherewithal for girls to go to balls, and
boys to spend money recklessly at college.
88 My Last Love.
In tlie next generation it may be, there
will be born to one of my cMldren — for
these things are inscrutable — a gipsy -faced
little maiden who shall comfort the weary
heart of some world-tired father, whom the
heat and burden of his day has almost
overpowered, and be as strong to help as
she is powerful to console.
Shall I live to see this dream-baby ?
Shall I, when feeble and white-haired, look
with dimmed vision into eyes that may
remind me of that dream-sister now almost
as far removed from me as though the valley
of the shadow lay between ? Shall saucy
tongue prattle to me with the daring abandon
of the reckless Joan of old ? Shall a brown-
skinned romp ever fling her arms about
me, and kiss my furrowed face, as I have
seen Joan kiss Eose ? Forgive me, friends,
for I seem to be growing childish already^
and it needs one fierce, wicked memory to
convince me that I am not yet in my dotage.
But a twelvemonth since Joan said to me —
^^ My second boy is so like you, Tom,
that I wish you would let me bring him to
And then I blazed out —
^' At your peril, Joan. I want to see no
child of yours for ever." In answer to
which came no harsh words, though mothers
are usually vicious towards those who turn
aside from their offspring.
She only said, ^'My poor Tom;" and
I could gather from her tone, though my
glance was averted, that there were tears in
those dark eyes (still beautiful), drawn from
their fountain by pity for me.
After all, why should I receive such pity ?
Eose was only a weak woman, and she mar-
ried another, leaving me lonely — as better
and holier and truer men have been left
lonely by women since the beginning of
time, and will be left till eternity.
It is a misfortune to have a heart. Hap-
pily my children — over whom I lament to
have sung so grevious a Jeremiad — are not
9© My Last Love,
much troubled with so delicate an
I mean mentally, of course. Physically
I believe they are quite sound, tried by the
Time meanwhile went by in a quiet, orderly-
sort of way : lie did not linger, lie did not
travel by express. There cannot be either
much lingering or much express work in
the life of a plodder, and that I soon be-
It was needful to provide so many guineas
a week for the household expenses deemed
by my beloved, necessaries ; it was essential
for me also to consider rent and taxes, in-
surance — fire and life — the demands of tailor,
milliner, and draper, and last and least (in
point of expense) the modest sum required
•92 My Last Love.
to keep poverty from the little farm at
Taken in detail, the items might not be
great, but taken in the aggregate and look-
ing back dispassionately on the events of my
life as though they had happened to another
man, I think it was more than any one per-
son ought to have been called upon to furnish
out of his own brains.
Ladies, of course, will call me a ^^ brute "
for such a remark, but that is merely be-
cause as yet ladies are not men. When
Messrs. Mill and Bright transform them
into the baser sex — and with masculine
privileges force masculine responsibilities
upon them, as I hope the champions of wo-
men's rights may — the dear creatures will
better understand what I mean, and wonder,
perchance, " How men endured it so long."
Endured, — that is, the social humbug which
makes it necessary for a man, no matter
what his ways and means may be, to live in
a, given style : to allow his wife so much a
My Visitor. 93
"Week ; to take a house at so much a year,
and as a rule choose the alternative of bank-
ruptcy or softening of the brain.
The present writer has experienced neither
disease, and yet he dare affirm more hus-
bands by ten thousands die of the causes
which produce both results, than any regis-
trar-general is ever likely to guess.
Men's lives are, as a rule, spent in keep-
ing roofs over other people's heads, — in
maintaining a household from which they
derive no benefit, — in paying tradesmen's
bills for food they never eat, — in seeing that
rent for places they never behold save late at
night and early in the morning, falls into no
Most wonderful is this London existence.
Marvellous even to those who are pilgrims
through it, as well as to the mere lookers-on.
But I digress ; and yet, no — for this ever-
lasting wear and tear, this mental and
physical strain which tried my strength and
taxed my energies to their utmost in the
94 ^y Last Love.
days wtten I was but a struggling barrister,
and an author little known, have made me,
I think, as much as Eose's desertion, the
man people say I am.
At the recollection of the earlier years of
my married life, I shudder. Ease of mind
I never knew, rest of body I never had. It
was all very well for Catharine — a woman
possessed of a power of enjoying unbroken
slumbers, I believe to be unequalled — ^to
talk of my morning's sleep, and my Sunday
afternoon nap ; she did not know that the
former was earned by a night devoted to the
next chapter in my novel, or the considera-
tion of ways and means ; and that the latter
was a mere excuse for getting rid of the
chit-chatter of her visitors.
First or last I never told my wife our
commencement was a mistake, — that we
began just about where we should have left
off; and that so far as I am personally con-
cerned, until within the last few years, life
has been a mere fight — to keep the wolf
from this door and from that.
My Visitor, 95
Eefore my books were hatched in my
brain, the poor chickens— lean and meagre
enough — were sold, and the proceeds paid
away ; before I held my briefs, the guineas
they brought in were condemned. I have
been what the world calls a prosperous man,
and yet I can honestly declare I have envied
my clerk and my errand boy ; and believing
Catharine's ^'Buttons" to be pecuniarily
solvent, I have often envied him too.
For it it is true, Mesdames and Demoi-
selles, though you may not believe me, that
life in the nineteenth century is not all play,
and that the man who sets out determined
to maintain a certain position, has rather
more work before him than he might exactly
relish, could he, looking forward, foresee all
his head and his hands must find to do.
I found it to do, and did it — and for so
much am thankful — but had I to begin the
battle over again, not all the mothers-in-law
in England would persuade me to commence
life in that unexceptionable home, provided
96 My Last Love,
with good (and expensive) servants, fur-
nished with the best furniture from garret
to kitchen, and stamping us as ^^ persons
bound to keep up a certain appearance."
"We have kept that appearance up, and
society and my wife are satisfied. Why
then should I be dissatisfied ? — I, who have
been the humble means of pleasing the
ruling powers ? When the good time comes
— and the clergyman treads swift on the
heels of the doctor, and the undertaker
walks lightly and rapidly after both, to take
the last measurement my body will ever
require — no one can say I have not, as a
Briton, done my duty.
I have married, and children have been
born to me. I have paid rent for a period
which seems illimitable and taxes with a
resignation that might touch the heart of
Mr. Lowe himself. I have fed servants
whom I never wanted ; entertained visitors
I never desired to see ; made money for
the benefit of West End tradespeople, and
My Visitor, 97
being in Rome, failed in no respect, accord-
ing to my light, to do as Rome desired.
And yet I think I was a fool for my
pains. Better a '' genteel six-roomed resi-
dence," than this ceaseless money-getting
and money -paying. Better, ah ! heaven, a
hundred times the dinner of herbs procured
for cash than the stalled ox purchased on
credit, or purchased at least thus far on
credit, that the money for our Sunday's
joint and trimmings was never in my pocket
on the Saturday night preceding.
Well, it was to be, I suppose, — at all
events it was, — and time and I and work
went on together, and the pecuniary tread-
mill became a familiar flight of steps.
Supposing a man to be successful m
business, he can employ clerks, and super-
intend their doings ; he can turn his thou-
sands by paying thousands. But suppose
a barrister, or an author, salary his ten
heads or twenty pair of hands, can he
indite the life history of Smith by instruct-
VOL. III. H
98 My Last Love,
ing Jones to bring him in so many foKos
closely written, or can lie defend the cause
of Brown by telling Eobinson to notice all
the nicest points in the case ?
Decidedly not ; and therefore, oh ! mil-
lionaire, when yon hold up your hands for
the future at the price paid for his book to
some poor devil whom you honour by occa-
sionally asking to dinner, or grudge Mr.
Sarjeant the hundred-guinea fee that is his
due, — just please to take these small matters
into consideration. The capital of each is in
his head, and if you could only imagine how
often authors and barristers have a quarrel
with that banker in order to get him to
honour their drafts, you would think law
and literature none such pleasant profes-
sions after all.
But, pshaw ! — why should I preach ? my
day has been profitable, and if I have worked,
what then ? It is the lot of man, and work
has been more blessed to me than any leisure
I can imagine. Yea, truly.
My Visitor. 99
Nevertheless, I worked, and hard, for
which reason I often remained late at my
chambers, instead of seeking that relaxation
in the bosom of a steadily increasing family,
which I am given to understand is good
alike for the soul and body of man.
Catharine, fortunately, was not of a sus-
picious disposition, or what she might have
thought of my constant professional absorp-
tion, who can say ?
Many wives do not credit the narratives
men tell concerning important business en-
gagements, and work pursued far into the
night, away from home, and in many cases
there is reason for this unbelief ; but so far
as I am concerned, had the partner of my
joy, and the liberal disburser of my earn-
ings, done me the honour of making a
friendly call in Pump Court at almost any
hour in the evening, she would have found
me busy with brief or manuscript, guiltless
of any act or thought or project disloyal to
lOO My Last Love.
But Catharine never did me the honour
of calling, and in all candour I may say I
did not want her to do so. Having to work,
it was best for me to labour on without even
the pleasing distraction of a visit from my
wife. Very few people came in a ^' friendly
way " to my chambers, where briefs now
arrived rapidly as could be desired. I had
not many male acquaintances, and as for
women I was scarcely on more than speak-
ing terms with any save those of my own
Day after day I wended my way through
the Temple — ^^( before my marriage I had
left Staples Inu, for more legally aristo-
cratic quarters), — until every stone in the
place grew famihar as the fields and woods
of my boyhood had been. Day after day I
repaired to court, and sometimes won the
suit and sometimes lost it. Most frequently,
however, fortune was with me. !N"ight after
night I worked late and hard, allowing
myself little relaxation, except an occasional
My Visitor, loi
half-hour's walk under the winter stars, or
in the summer's evening's twilight through
the deserted nooks and corners of the
How many dinners I ate in those years
at the ^ George,' I should be afraid to
reckon. How many cigars I smoked pacing
slowly round the church of the old Knights
Templar, or walking by Goldsmith's grave,
or (more rarely) sauntering through the
gardens, it would be impossible to count.
Essentially I had become a lonely man,
caring but little for anything save my pro-
fession and the money it brought me, valu-
ing literary success merely just so far as it
contributed towards the support of a rising
family, and attaching importance to adverse
criticism only to the extent it reduced the
amount of the next cheque sent by my pub-
Occasionally Catharine and I went to
parties together; sometimes even we re-
paired in each other's company to the
I02 My Last Love.
theatre and the opera, but as a rule she
accompanied her father and mother, or
matronized her sisters to those festive
gatherings which were in our sphere con-
sidered amusing and proper.
I had not, in a general way, time to spend
on what my wife called ^' keeping up our
connection," so she sedulously devoted her-
self to that pleasing duty, and at this mo-
ment were any one to inquire of Mrs. Lut-
trell as to the special causes which have
contributed to such worldly success as we
can boast, she would, I doubt not, answer,
" Well, you know, I did not, like many
women, relinquish society when I married ;
I was always careful to make and retain
And to do her justice she was ; but
were the debit and credit column added
up, and a strict account made out of profit
and loss, the result of Catharine's tactics
would not, I think, prove to have been gain.
However, she believes she has fulfilled the
My Visitor, 103
duty of existence, and no doubt she is right,
since every one says how desirable a thing
it is for a professional man to possess so
admirable a wife.
I wish some one would tell me why — and
inform me at the same time what possible
advantage it can be to a man for a woman
to dress herself out, evening after evening,
like Solomon in all his glory, for the mere
sake of making the eighteenth at a dinner-
party, or the two hundred and first at one
of those popular entertainments ironically
called an ''At Home."
From all of which the attentive reader
will readily understand that we soon became
a very fashionable couple, interfering little
one with the other, meeting only at break-
fast on week-days, and having but little in
common to talk over when Sunday came,
and with the day of rest orthodox church-
going, early dinner, and an afternoon
devoted to the claims of society and the
pleasure of seeing many callers.
I04 My Last Love.
Occasionally, indeed, we had dinner
parties, and then I reached our house in time
to see to the wines and receive my wife's
instructions as to whom I was to take down ;
while once at least in every season Catharine
issued cards for an ^' At Home " more
crowded, more uncomfortable, and more hot
than any she herself had attended, on which
occasion it was de ricjaeur that I should be
in attendance, though I am sure nobody
wanted me, and I did not want myself.
My real '^ At Home," however, was in
Pump Court, when, with curtains drawn and
blazing fire, I settled- myself down for an
evening's thorough work. Even now I can
recall the peace of those quiet hours ! I can
look back with satisfaction on the amount of
willing labour I got through in the days,
and months, and years between the first
romance of my life and my last — between
the first sorrow of my existence, which I got
over, and that last which is present with me
My Visitor. 1 0.5
Anxieties I had, it is true, and the eternal
pressure of providing for a style of living
far beyond my actual position in life. As
my brothers grew older, also my responsi-
bilities seemed to increase. They were
always getting into scrapes ; one, indeed,
got into something worse than a scrape,
and it needed much money and, what was
even more important, much time to extricate
him, and of course the whole burden of
trouble and expense and anxiety fell on me.
But my shoulders were broad, and the
burden was not more than I could carry,
and I did, or thought I did, my duty, and
the old love lay buried under the apple-
blossoms, and the soft green turf, and the
dead autumnal leaves of the long ago time.
For years I had never beheld Eose Surry
— never heard tidings of her.
Sometimes, indeed, I saw the names of
Sir Walter and Lady Surry mentioned
amongst those of other fashionable persons
who had " graced with their presence," or
io6 My Last Love.
" been honoured with invitations," but this
I had learnt only through the columns of
the Times that Sir Humphrey Surry was
dead and that Sir Walter the new king
reigned in his stead, but my way lay so far
apart from theirs, it was hard to understand
how the threads of our lives could ever have
crossed even for a moment, and sometimes I
looked back upon the whole love story but
as an unsubstantial dream.
The present baronet was a different indi-
vidual, indeed, from the late Sir Humphrey,
and at his grand town house there were as-
semblies, and balls, and dinner parties innu-
merable, whilst when the season was over
I read about the great people who were
^^ partaking of the hospitalities of Gray-
borough.*' That was the way I think the
gentleman who wrote the passage worded it.
Once, indeed, meeting Dick Tullett in the
street (hearing I was at one time slightly
Bohemian he had eschewed all intimate ac-
My Visitor. 107
quaintance with me, and I had not cared to
renew it even when the ^' elegances and re-
finements of life " were, thanks to Mrs. Lut-^
trelPs good management, inmates of my home,
though my wife and family now visit his),
he told me he was going down to Gray-
borough, where I found subsequently he
had formed one of a distinguished circle
invited thither as guests of Sir Walter and
He did not add he was going in order to
paint her portrait. The man was ashamed
of his trade and did not care to mention it,
but I found out his errand to Grayborough,.
when next year I saw in the newspapers a
criticism on Lady Surry's portrait in the
Academy, painted by Eichard Tulle tt, Esq.,
I did not go to the Academy that season.
She was too greatly removed, we were
too far separated by rank and circumstances
for even a pulse to beat the quicker at sight
of her name, nevertheless, being married
io8 My Last Love.
myself and she married, I thought it best
to stay away. The disillusion also might
have been too bitter. It was the child Eose
— the darling T met by the river now flow-
ing on solitary — the sweet child-girl of a
later growth whom I could remember so
distinctly without bitterness, and I had no
wish to see the woman, even on canvas, who
was now far fi'om me as the heaven from
So I did not go, and Lady Surry hung in
a good light on the Academy walls, and
Mr. Tullett's fortune was made. Had Eose
been my wife, her portrait should not have
been stared at by thousands in a public
building; but then she was Lady Surry, a
celebrated beauty, and I only a commoner
with strong ideas concerning the sacredness
of a woman's loveliness.
Had she been my wife I should have kept
that portrait within my holy of holies, but
then she was not my wife, and of course no
one came to consult me on the subject. At ^
My Visitor, 1 09
a later period Mrs. LuttrelPs portrait, to
which allusion has already been made, also
graced the Academy walls, but this pub-
licity was entirely of her own choosing ; and
as I never could have forced a full compre-
hension on her of my intense dislike to such
exhibitions, the subject was not mooted be-
She got the portrait painted at a very
reasonable rate on the stipulation that it was
to be exhibited, and when she told me a
Mr. Snooks, who dined frequently at our
house, and was a very good judge of the
quality of our wines, had offered to per-
petuate her charms on canvas, and purposed
giving that portion of the British public who
discourse about effect and delight in art an
opportunity of beholding them, I said never
a word in deprecation of her design. I did
not even ask how much it was to cost, for
fortune had smiled on me, and a few pounds
more or less was not of such paramount im-
portance as had once been the case.
no My Last Love,
So Mrs. Luttrell was duly done in oils,
and Snooks got several good orders in con-
But as I was saying, had Eose been my
wife that portrait should not have appeared
in the catalogue.
I have had a copy of it made since, or
rather a copy of it was made for me, but it
gives me very little idea of Eose.
Of course after a thing of this sort has
been copied, that copy photographed, the
photograph re-drawn, and coloured, the like-
ness to the original sitter cannot be con-
sidered admirable, and yet I think the face
I turn and gaze at now is not wholly
unlike that which Tullett, E.A., painted,
though it does not in the slightest degree
resemble Eose — at least not to my mind.
Other people thought the original painting
admirable, but in this, as in many things
more or less important, other people and I
My Visitor. 1 1 1
I never believed Dick TuUett, whether
boy or man, could paint a woman, and
I see no reason to alter my opinion —
he has been dexterous in the treatment
of her necklace and drapery, but he was
less fortunate in his portrait of Lady Surry
than of the child Rose, which he sketched
in chalk one summer evening long ago —
oh ! so long.
It was many a day after that portrait was
painted ere I saw Eose again, and I am told
there was a period in her life when the
sweetness vanished out of her face, and
there lay a sorrowful, almost sullen look in
those eyes that had been so pure and in-
Fashionable hours, a perpetual round of
visiting, whirling here and whirling there,
being admired, flattered, yielded to, did not,
I am told, improve her temper or her nature,
and this may be so ; but all I know is that
when we met again she was gentle and
tender as of old, and that to whomsoever
112 My Last Love.
else she may haye seemed arrogant and
perverse, the only memory of her my heart
holds is the recollection of a woman sweet
and clinging, weak and lovable and loving;
the Eose of the murmuring rivulet; the
Eose who stood out with me under the
moonlight when the apple-blossoms carpeted
the ground, grown to womanhood unchanged
in heart, unspoiled in nature.
But you want to know, at least I hope
you do, when and how we met again after a
lapse of time which had aged me consider-
ably and made me a very different looking
fellow to the Tom Luttrell who picked my
first love's reticule out of the stream and
sat on the brink with Joan and Eose, eating
cherries and watching the trout gleaming in
and out amongst the alders.
Marriage ages a working man everywhere
when once the first illusion is over, and he
comes practically to understand the meaning
of '^ little bills," and to know that a house,
and wife, and a family cannot be maintained
My Visitor. 113
on air; that baker, butcher, tailor, shoe-
maker, and milliner are tangible beings,
oftentimes terrible realities ; but in London
the pace being faster and the expenses
greater, and the time for mental and phy-
sical repose more limited, husbands age
more rapidly than elsewhere.
I did at all events. While Lady Surry
was still beautiful and still young, I had
settled down into a grave, thoughtful man.
Lines were traced across my forehead ; grey
hairs had cropped up from time to time ;
when I looked in the glass it was a face
changed and worn that gazed back at me
steadily and steadfastly, with grave thought-
ful eyes. My youth was gone, and my
elasticity with it. Already the life insurance
seemed a good and desirable property, for I
had left my dreams behind me, and under-
stood thoroughly that the end of all our
dreams is the last sound sleep, which none
of the voices, whether sweet or harsh, that
VOL. III. I
114 My Last Love.
have disturbed and distracted us here shall
be able to break.
I was sitting alone in my chambers one
winter's night, just as I am doing now, only
at this moment I chance to be writing a
story, and then I was reading one, the plot
whereof turned on a will over which two
brothers were disputing, and the denooement
of which was still uncertain — my man, I
ought to say, lost, though I believe he lost
righteously — when there came a ring at the
hall door, closed long previously, and a
moment afterwards the small boy who stole
my stamps, smoked my cigars, read my
letters, forgot to deliver messages, and who,
in addition to his other sins, chanced to be
a son of the elderly female who professed to
keep my chambers clean and failed to do so,
came head-first into the room, full of the
astounding intelligence —
"Please, sir, a lady wants to see you,
"What lady?" I asked, for the cave of
My Visitor, 115
St. Kevin or the isle of St. Senanus was not
more innocent of female presence than
those chambers in Pump Court. ^'What
lady?" and then, looking up, I sat like one
bewildered because of the apparition I
" Lady Surry ! " I gasped.
She came across to the table against which
I now stood unable to move, unable almost
to believe the evidence of my senses. She
laid her hand on my arm, and said just one
word, " Tom."
That was all, and yet in a moment the
mist of the years, with their misery and
trouble, their labour and their anguish,
seemed lifted like a veil, and I was young
again, and life was still before me, and I
was wandering, happy and unheeding,
through the Elysian fields of yore.
There are stories told of persons who, sleep-
ing for only two minutes, have yet managed
to dream dreams the actions and events of
which were carried on through years — and
I believe those stories, for although I was
then wide awake, I dreamed a dream, in the
space of about a single second of time, which
extended over the happiest part of my life.
Then my vision ended, before she took
her hand away it was over, and we both
stood — parted — she a wife, I a husband, and
yet not husband and wife ; she a mother, I
a father, and yet neither a drop's blood to
Lady Surry, 1 1 7
the children of each other — parted as utterly
as man and woman could be parted — we who
had once been so much, she to me and I to
her. So much ! had we not been all in all ?
^' I am afraid I surprised — startled you,"
she began, '^ but I had not another friend
in the world to whom I could come but
I pulled my own especial chair round to
the fire for her, and seated myself at a little
distance before I could quite steady my voice
to answer. Then I said —
" What is the matter — what is wrong ? "
'''' Everything," she answered, ^^ and I
want you to put it right." And then she
looked at the fire for a second or so, and I
could see that her face was worn and pale,
and that her eyes — those dear, sweet, honest,
childish eyes I remembered so well — were
full of tears. '^ You are not angry with me
for coming here, Tom, are you ? " she asked
'' Angry, Lady Surry! " I repeated.
1 1 8 My Last Love.
*^Call me Eose," she said. "It will
souncl like the old times, and we have
never been other than friends, have
" No, indeed ! " I answered.
Yet for the life of me I could not help
remembering how much more than friends
we had once been, and I wondered how she
could forget or ignore it ; but then women
are mysteries (woman is the real enigma of
existence), and the extent to which they
can forget and ignore, even while re-
calling, is marvellous to the present
" All these years I have watched your
success, I have read your books, I have been
proud of and jealous for you as Joan might
be. I heard of you— of you all. Though I
never wrote, I never forgot Joan nor any of
Not knowing what reply to make to this,
I held my peace.
'^ I thought of writing to you often," she
Lady Surry, 119
went on, ^^ to say how glad I was to hear of
your success, and to ask after Joan, and
the rest ; but then I decided I would not.
You did not think me unkind, did you ? "
I should have thought it a most marvel-
lous thing had she written, though such
letters are sent daily, I believe, in London ;
and yet I was pleased to know the tender
little heart had felt impelled to send
some token of remembrance, though it
fluttered back again without fulfilling its'
^^No," I said, "I could never think you
'^ Thank you," she said. '^And I knew
that although you had become a great
author " (Heaven help her innocence !) " and
been so successful in every way " (I felt as
if my soul must have uttered a cry at hear-
ing this, as if I must tell her what a wretched
unsatisfactory life it had all been), "you
would not quite forget old times, but help
me if you could."
I20 My Last Love.
I got up from my chair and paced the
room once, twice, thrice. 1 verily believed
if she went on much longer she would drive
I thought of the Egyptian bondage into
which 1 had sold myself — and there sat she,
the only thing I had ever desired or hoped
to possess, congratulating me on having par-
taken of the leeks and cucumbers of that
"Why could she not have left me alone ?
Why had she ever come there ?
^' Eose " — I spoke her name quite dis-
tinctly, and without a tremour in my voice ;
it was the first time since her marriage it
had ever to my knowledge passed my lips ;
when deliiious, no doubt I spoke it often
enough. "Eose, if you want my help, I
am ready to give it, if I can serve you
— with all the veins of my heart I will do
so — but for God's sake let the dead past
lie buried — do not talk of old times to
Lady Surry. I2i
Then she turned away, and I knew it was
to hide her tears.
These women, oh, these women ! they
turn down a page in a man's life's book, and
go away and attend to a thousand things ;
they marry, they bear children, they make a
hundred fresh fiiends, they have a score of
admirers, and then, after years, they return
and open the old book, and expect that
the tale can be proceeded with, or the
former story recalled innocently or half in-
differently as once they read it : whilst the
Well, I had set Eose crying — not a diffi-
cult operation to perform — poor Eose.
" I did not mean to wound you," I began,
when I could endure the sight of her grief
^' I know you did not," she answered,
*^ but I am so miserable and so stupid."
"- What is the matter ? " I asked.
" Walter will not let me live with him any
longer, and he has taken my children away.'^
122 My Last Love,
"And you "
" I have done notliing wrong — oh ! Tom,"
she cried passionately, " if nobody else be-
lieves in me, won't you ? He has been so
eruel and so hard ; and then to take away
my children." She never said " our
children." She never, first or last, through
that interview wept or made lamentation for
" Have you left Grayborough, then," I
'^No, but he has, and taken my children
too, and I could not stay there alone. He
calculated on that — and I have come np here
to ask you to help me. I do not want money
• — or anything from him — if he will only
give me my children."
That was the refrain. Poor little desolate
heart, she could not remain alone — she could
not live separated from those she loved.
Through a mist I saw the child I had first
beheld sobbing by the stream, little caring
in her babyish grief what the future might
Lady Surry. 123
have to hold for her beside her mother's
anger at the drenched reticule. And the
years had come, and the years had gone, and
hehold this was what they had brought — a
loveless marriage — a distrustful husband —
a desolate home, and a frantic flight to
the only human being who could, she said,
I had thought much and often about Lady
Surry during the course of my married life,
but I had never dreamed of anything like
this — ^never seen her, even in the wildest of
fancy's night-mares, sitting thus in my
chambers — a despised wife — a weeping
mother — a lonely, broken-heai-ted woman.
'* It can soon be set right though," I said
at length, speaking rather as the sequence
of a long train of thought than in answer to
her last remark ; but Eose shook her
*^ "Walter was always jealous," she ex-
plaiDed, ^^he never quite trusted me. He
knew — " at this point she stopped and
124 ^y Last Love,
hesitated, and I did not encourage her to
proceed — we both understood the finish of
the unspoken sentence too well.
^^ If I am to be of any service to you," I
began after a short pause, ^'you must be
frank with me ; tell me the whole story from
beginning to end^ so far as it concerns this
"I will try," she said, bearing and lean-
ing back in the chair, she began at the
commencement of her trouble, and told me
all about it right through without a break.
There was not much in it, nothing but
the usual tale of a man's jealousy and a
woman's folly. Eose had always been a
little simpleton, and furthermore, a naughty,
perverse child, going where she was told
not to go, and doing the things she had been
bidden to leave alone.
Sitting there, listening to her confession,
I remembered how having been ordered not
to go to the river she went — alas ! for me.
Well, the whole of her married life had
Lady Surry, 125
been on a piece with that. If Walter Surry
desired her not to waltz, the first thing he
beheld was Eose whirling round to the music
of the then most fashionable trois temps. If
he told her he wished such and such persons
treated with only distant courtesy, he was
certain to find the obnoxious individuals in
her box at the opera, beside her carriage in
the Eow, close at hand in the next ball-room.
I could have led her with a silken thread,
or I fancy I could, which comes to much
about the same thing ; but knowing the
persistent obstinacy with which she disre-
regarded her mother's commands, I arrived
at the conclusion, that on the whole, Walter
Surry's life with his wife had not been one
of unmixed happiness ; that, with his tem-
perament, the blessing of such a wife as
Eose could not have proved entirely un-
mixed ; and at first, I confess my sympathies
were with him, but when she went on to
tell me how he intercepted her letters, and
held her answerable for the impertinent
126 My Last Love,
folly of a man wlio thought she meant ta
give him encouragement, when she was only
in her folly trying to pass the hours plea-
santly with a pleasant companion, whom she
had once assured me she ^^ hated" — when
she recited her tears and prayers — her
frantic assurance of innocence, her entreaties
that he would not part her from her chil-
dren — the pity of old stirred within my
heart, and for one moment — one wild, mad,
passionate moment — I reflected had I been
but free, and that this chance had offered, I
would, in spite of fifty husbands, have
taken her to myself, and kept her — so
far as it lay in the power of man to do it —
free from harm and sorrow for ever.
And then, thank God, that feeling passed
away, for I remembered what she was, and
what I, and that there lay between us that
which no honest man, no virtuous woman,
may ever cross.
To me she might be Kose — but she was
also Lady Surry ; to her I might be Tom,
Lady Surry, 127
the lover of her girlhood — but I was also
Tom, the husband of another woman — the
father of many children — ^who could never
be aught to her in the future save friend or
He had tried to tire her out — to compel
her to leave and return to her mother ; but
here again Eose's persistency stood her in
" I have done nothing wrong," she con-
tended, " and I shall not go."
Then he went himself, and had the chil-
dren conveyed away likewise.
"That was this morning," Eose ex-
plained, *^and to-night I am here. I arrived
in town about six o'clock, and went to an
hotel and got a Directory, and found out
where your chambers were. I did not wish
to go to your house if I could avoid doing
What a goose she was ! I, with my evil
knowledge of the world — learned in a school
where the world always turns its worst side
128 My Last Love,
out — stood aghast at her lack of the most
Knowing her husband to be jealous —
knowing there were a thousand tongues
ready to make a nine days' tattle about her,
waiting only the signal for attack to tear her
fair fame to pieces, she left the secure
shelter of her home, travelled to London
without even a maid, drove to a grand West
End Hotel, and came out at the latest time
in the evening she could well select — to see
me, it was true — but, so far as society was
concerned, or knew, to see anybody.
Thinking all this over, I said —
" You must go back by the first train to-
*'No," she replied, ^^I will never enter
Walter Surry's house again."
^^ Folly!" I exclaimed, and then she
l)urst out crying.
'^ He had taken everything from her she
cared to have — all she wanted now was
peace and her children."
Lady Surry, 129
^^ Then," I remarked, " you must come
to my house ; if I am to interfere in this
matter at all, you must follow my advice ;
and I will have nothing to do with the
business if you persist in staying alone at
a London hotel, at the mercy of Dick, Tom,
and Harry's good-natured inferences. In
fact, you ought not to have come to London
at all. A letter would have brought me
to Grayborough by the first train.
" Would it ? " she answered faintly — " I
was afraid it might not."
Might not — ah ! Eose.
She still sat leaning back in her chair,
with the fire-light playing over her face,
and I could not help remarking how wan
and changed she looked — ^how changed from
the Eose Surry I had seen driving in the
'' Are you quite well ? " I asked at length,
meeting her questioning glance. " I mean,
do you feel strong, and in quite good health,
VOL. III. K
ISO My Last Love,
excepting the fatigue consequent on your
journey ? "
^^Yes, quite," she answered; and then
added, hurriedly — '^ Oh ! you will get me
back my children, or I shall die ! "
" And you will return to Grayborough.'*
"No, the solitariness would drive me
" Will you come home with me ? "
" Yes, anywhere not to be alone."
'^ "We had better go at once, then," I re-
marked, "and I will think over the best
plan to pursue between this and to-morrow
She rose at my words like a child, and
saying simply, " Thank you, Tom — I leave
it all in your hands now," moved towards
the door. On her way, however, she
stopped, and, turning to me, asked ner-
" But your wife, — will she not object ? "
"It is that you may have the protection
of my wife I propose your coming to our
Lady Surry, * 131
house ; only pray do not mention you have
had any quarrel with your husband ; you
<3an say you have come to town on business,
and I thought it must be uncomfortable for
you to stop at your great town establish-
She opened her eyes in astonishment at
my advising her to even insinuate a false-
hood, but said she would do whatever I told
her, though she did not much like it.
And you were right, my dear, and I
ivrong, for the truth — no matter how in-
expedient it may seem at first — is always
best in the long run. I might have learned
this in the course of my practice, but I had
not, and behold the use I made of my
worldly knowledge conned since the days
when we walked together by stream, o'er
lea, through copse, was to teach my darling
in her extremity to be false — ^false with in-
tention, spite of her cowardice, I verily
believe, for the first time in all her
132 My Last Love,
When we went out into pump Court, the
rain was pouring in torrents, and she clung
to me whilst I tried to shelter her with my
umbrella. We walked together over the
dripping pavement I had paced so many a
hundred times alone, beneath the porch of
the Temple Church, and so into Fleet
Street. Then I left her in the shelter of
a doorway for a minute, whilst I secured a
My darling, I have often wondered since
what you thought of during those few
seconds when you stood all alone in an un-
familiar London street — all alone in the
world, indeed except for me !
As we drove to my home, I called at the
hotel where she had left her luggage, and
desired the waiter to inform Sir Walter
Surry when he arrived in town, that Lady
Surry had gone to stay with her friends at
the address I gave him.
The man knew me by reputation. I had
risen high enough in my profession for that,
Lady Surry, 133
and I felt thankful at having put the affair
right so far. How Mrs. Luttrell might take
Lady Surry's introduction to our domestic
hearth at such a time of night, was quite
another question, but one which had to be
faced. My own opinion was, she would put
Lady Surry's rank on the credit side of her
mind, against the natural prejudice existing
on the debit.
She had known of my attachment to Eose.
She was well aware I had loved the young
lady very dearly, and it is never a pleasant
thing for a woman to reflect she has caught a
man's heart on the rebound — supposing she
fancies she has caught it at all — for which
reasons I did not think she would approve
of Lady Surry's visit ; but then on the other
hand she was Lady Surry, and I heard in
imagination my Catharine discoursing to
future callers concerning her visitor; I
could see her mentally planning a journey
to Grayborough in expectation of the invita-
tion which must surely come ; and I could
134 ^y Last Love,
prophetically listen to her telling me in the
dead of night what a nice connection it
would prove in future days for the chil-
I thought of all this as we drove wearily
along in the cab. Ah ! days long past, it
was not in such prosaic musings I occupied
myself when a boy I carried my future love
home in my arms to the Hall ; or when a
man I whispered my love to her in the
spring twilight !
It all turned out as I expected : Mrs. Lut-
trell did not quite like the intrusion, yet
was she gracious and hospitable ; but I could
see Eose did not take much to my wife. She
shrank a little, it seemed to me, from the
apparent warmth of Catharine's welcome,
and she looked at me pitifully from time
to time in a way which I should have in-
terpreted to mean, even had she not
afterwards translated it into words during
my wife's momentary absence from the
Lady Surry » 135
^^ Oh ! Tom, if she knew how it all^was,
she would not wish me to be here."
^^ We must put it right then,'' I answered
cheerfully, and the poor little soul went to
bed happier, I think.
The first hours of that night which ought to
have been devoted to slumber, were spent
by Catharine in questioning and cross-ques-
tioning me concerning Lady Surry ; and con-
sidering the practice I had gone through in
that sort of thing — cross-questioning other
people — I caruiot say I came out of the
During the course of that conversation I
told her a great many things which would
have inevitably resulted in a prosecution for
perjury had they been stated on oath. She
wanted to know so much, too much. She
All Wrong, 137
asked me how I knew Lady Surry was in
London, — if she had sent for me, — how it
happened that the servants were not at the
town house, — above all, how it chanced
Lady Surry had not brought her maid.
" Good gracious," I answered, ^^ I never
imagined you wanted the maid. Shall I
send for her in the morning ? "
"No! oh, no!'' Catharine said, adding
next moment, however, regretfully, ^' but
the servants may wonder, you know."
^'So they may, with all my heart," I
replied ; '^ still, if you want the maid, have
her by all means. My notion is, however,
she will only make our people discontented."
'-'• Indeed, that is very true," Mrs. Luttrell
kindly agreed, and there ensued a silence,
which was broken by my wife saying, a
minute or so afterwards — -
" Do you not think we might manage to
give a party whilst Lady Surry is with us ? "
^^ Certainly ; but had we not one a fort-
night ago ? "
138 My Last Love.
'' Yes,— only— "
" Oh, if you want to give another, I have
no objection ; however, I do not think it
can be whilst Lady Surry is here, as I know
she wishes to stay in town as short a time as
^^Idid not think of that," murmured
Catharine, and I fondly hoped she was going
to sleep ; but no, she commenced in a second
or two again, fresher than ever, trying to
pump from me what business it was on which
Kose had come to London.
Now, in a general way, this was a proceed-
ing to which I should have put an immediate
stop, for I never had spoken to my wife
about my clients, and I did not allow her to
speak concerning them to me, but on this
occasion I proved a coward — I think men
always are cowards when speaking to women
about women — and put her off, or tried to
do so, until she faiiiy compelled me to make
up a falsehood for her special benefit, and
tell her a long story about a relation of Sir
All Wrong, 139.
Walter's who had been entrapped into a low
match, and got into trouble, and that Eose
had thought of me, and offered to come up
to London to see what could be done.
The story was true enough in one respect,
though not with respect to Eose. My own
brother Stephen had got into just a similar
scrape, and the narrative consequently flowed
on easily and smoothly enough. Catharine
believed it implicitly, all the more readily,
perhaps, because I cautioned her on no ac-
count to mention the matter to Lady Surry.
"She is in great trouble, and does not
look at all well," I finished ; " and I should
not like her to think I had spoken about her
and Sir "Walter's concerns to any one.
"While she is here I wish you would write a
line to Joan, and ask her to spend a day
with us. She and Lady Surry used to be
" And so were you and she,'' remarked
Catharine. By the change in her tone I
hi 1 :n id 3 a mistake in saying anything
I40 My Last Love.
about Joan. " You were very much in love
with her once, were you not ? "
^^ I was," I answered, '' when I was a boy
— a long time ago — but that was before I
ever saw you, Catharine."
I tried to say this tenderly, but I failed.
The memory of my first love was very
present with me at that moment — my first
love, who, in those blessed, far-away days,
had been to me like child, wife, sister, friend
— all in one.
That night I dreamed a very strange
dream. I was on the bank of that well-
remembered river once more, Joan and Eose
stood on the little promontory of gravel,
with hands outstretched towards the bag,
which floated rapidly away. I tried to
arrest its progress, but, failing to do so,
stepped from the stones into the water, and
pursued it down the stream. Suddenly the
water deepened, and at the same moment I
saw it was Eose herself who was being
carried away by the current.
All Wrons:. 141
Desperately I struck out in pursuit, for I
was abeady out of my depth. Panting and
gasping, I swam on, never able, however, to
get near enough to catch her dress, which I
still beheld gleaming white and limp on the
bosom of the waters.
We were in a great river by this time,
but there was not a boat on its surface, not
a creature on its banks. I looked if there
were no one I could shout to — no one who
would give me help — and then, seeing there
was none to save, I dashed forward with
Even now — after many, many years — I
can recall every circumstance of that dream ;
I can feel the water licking my lips — ^the
strain of my muscles as my arms clave the
water ; I can see the peaceful greenness of
the banks growing more and more distant
every moment ; I can follow the light figure
floating on more and more rapidly. I re-
member the mad, passionate despair that
rent my very heart — the impotent agony of
142 My Last Love,
my soul. I make once again a final struggle,
and through the waters seke my darling's
dress; then there comes a great darkness
hefore my eyes, as there came in that vision
— some one unseen before, interposes between
us, tears Eose's gown from my grasp, and
bears me with painful strength to the bank,
where I recognise my wife !
It does me harm to write about all this.
As my memory portrays once more that
scene, I lay down my pen, and pace the
room. Oh ! Eose — my love ! my life !
And yet what folly all this is ! I recollect
thinking just the same thing, thinking it
was all senseless folly, when, after awaken-
ing, trembling and afraid, I lay through
the hours of that weary night talking to my
The woman was nothing to me. She had
elected to marry another husband, and
quarrel with him. There was no Eose Surry
for Tom Luttrell now, only Lady Surry —
Sir "Walter's wife — my client.
All Wrong, 143
That this should be so, I resolved —
resolved with all the strength of my mind —
viz., whilst Lady Surry stayed with us, my
house should see less of me even than usual.
There were certain things it was needful for
me to do in her interest — certain letters to
write, certain interviews to seek — above all,
I had to find Sir "Walter Surry ; but there
existed no necessity for me to remain long
at home or to return there early, and conse-
quently for two days Lady Surry and I
Then she took the extremer step of coming
again to my chambers ; but this time with
Joan — dear, loving Joan, to whom she had
told everything, and who proved in this time
of need as staunch a friend as she had been
a true daughter. It was on this occasion
Eose explained how she came to marry Sir
"Walter, as if that mattered to me now or
could make the present better, the future
happier. Afterwards we talked about her
144 ^y L<^st Love,
^' I will let Joan know the moment there
is news of any kind," I said ; but, as they
were leaving, I held my sister back, and
added — '' For mercy's sake, keep her from
me. I cannot bear it. And I cannot make
" Dear Tom," Joan answered softly, and
the tears were in her eyes as she spoke the
What did they find to talk about, my
wife and Lady Surry ? Doubtless of their
children ; and I used often to fancy Eose
drawing mine to her, and fondling and
petting them, both because she was a mother
herself, and because she remembered — and
then I was wont to grow hard and angry in
a moment when this softening picture was
turned and the canvas reversed — when I
saw her in imagination looking for something
in my children which they lacked — searching
their mother's face for qualities she instinc-
tively desired to find, but could not, and then
turning for comfort to Joan — the tender,
brave, impulsive self-reliant Joan of old.
All Wrong, 145
When a man lias made a mistake in the
building of his life's house, he is never so
disappointed with his own want of skill as
with the house itself.
That was my case in those few short days,
which seemed to lengthen themselves out
into years. Heaven pardon me !
But what else did those two women talk
about ? I have since ascertained that Catha-
rine devoted some portion of that abundant
leisure with which Providence had blessed
her to cross-examining Eose, as she cross-
examined me, but with much greater
Eose was but a poor dissembler, and ere
long my Catharine knew she had never been
to the great town house at all, and that she
had come to my chambers on that winter's
night, when I was supposed to have been
ceremoniously invited to an interview — all
of which incongruities Mrs. Luttrell kept
sacredly and secretly within her own breast,
as within a storehouse, wherefrom, when
VOL. III. L
146 My Last Love.
the evil days came, coals of fire were to be
heaped on the head of an ofi'ending husband.
No human being would believe the trouble
I had to ascertain Sir Walter Surry's where-
Subsequently I have reason to know this
was attributed to me as a sin, Mrs. Luttrell
arguing, with the usual logical accuracy of
her sex, that if I had wanted to find him I
could have done so ; but this was not the
case. For some time he had led so wander-
ing a life, that not even his most intimate
friends could indicate his whereabouts with
certainty, and it was therefore necessary for
me to track him down step by step, which
at length I did.
Even then, however, I could not im-
mediately start in pursuit, for I had been
retained on an important case, and even for
Eose I coidd not throw up my brief and
desert a cause I had made my own, and
which I ultimately won.
Women say a man never truly loves
All Wrong, 147
them unless he be wiUing to do anything for
their dear sakes — and I fancy the women
are right. That individual who observed —
" I could not love, thee, dear, so much.
Loved I not honour more,"
never certainly had fallen over head and
In the days when Eose was still my
possible Eose, I should like to have seen
the retainer that could have kept me from
her side ; but now, alas ! Rose was not even
possibly my Eose, and rent and trades-
people and her Majesty's tax-collector, had
to be satisfied as well as my client's interest
Heavens ! what a life this would be if it
could always be only apple-blossoms and
Eose ; but then, alas ! both Eose and apple-
blossoms are expensive — the one involves an
establishment, and the other a gardener.
Why — oh ! why did Adam and Eve leave
Eden ? Was it that Eve wanted to see the
latest fashion-book, and that Adam disliked
148 My Last Love.
the trouble of gathering peas for dinnerj and
fruit for dessert ?
If only there could be a second garden pf
Eden planted, say in the Thames Yalley, or
on the top of Eichmond Hill, I think I might
promise to refrain from any dozen trees the
owner of that freehold desired to keep intact.
There is an observation, however, I desire
Should any one reading these lines be
tempted to present me with the like, I
should prefer Paradise, without any Eve
who could now be brought to me.
Alas ! that we should outlive our illusions.
I think as little of women at this present
moment as I dare say most women who
understand the world think of men — that is
to say, we may get on comfortably enough
without the grand passions, the profound
despair, the mad agony, the rapturous joy
we once thought necessary to make up the
whole romance of life.
For, behold, life is not a romance, but
All Wrong, 1^9
a reality — full of such stern sorrows, and
such bitter tragedies, as might make the
ringlets of romance itself fall out of curl.
But all this time Eose and her affairs are
The moment I had finished my speech in
the case to which allusion has already been
made, without waiting even to hear the
verdict, I left the court, repaired to my
chambers, divested myself of wig and gown,
put on a thick overcoat, directed my clerk to
telegraph result of the trial to me, took a
cab to Euston Square, and was soon on my
way to Crommingford.
I ascertained Sir "Walter had returned to
Grayborough almost directly after his wife
left, and knowing of how little use letters
are in explaining away, or smoothing down
conjugal differences, it was my intention to
seek a face to face interview, and beard the
lion in his den.
Since the time when I went down to
claim my bride, and found her married.
150 My Last Love,
I had never been in that part of the country
at all, and as I strode along the remembered
roads it seemed impossible to realise the free,
happy life I once led, wandering by the
mill stream, and parting the hedges to find
out the blue-bonnet's nest.
It seemed to me still more strange to
recollect that people like the Surrys had
then appeared almost too great and grand to
approach — that the then Lady Surry, now
a dowager, had been able to snub me very
effectually, and that even their butler, se-
date and white neck-clothed, inspired me
with a very sufficient^ awe.
As for Gray borough, time was when I
should have entered its gates with fear and
trembling, and scarcely dared to ask for
an interview with its owner, but now so
assured and confident were my manners,
that the old woman at the lodge dropped me
a respectful curtsey, and the footman who
graciously received my card was almost
deferential in his reception.
All Wrong. 151
In those remote regions it could not be
that any one knew aught concerning me, but
I knew myself that I had made a certain
mark in law and in letters, and this was
sufficient both for myself and for other
How Sir Walter might take my visit was
of course quite another matter. If he re-
fused to see me, I intended to return to mine
inn, and send him thence an explanatory
epistle ; if he refused to read that, I resolved
upon adopting another course. But the
baronet saved me the trouble of resorting to
either plan by walking, high and mighty,
proud and conscious, stately and unbending,
into the library where I sat.
I rose as he entered, and we bowed — we
two stiffly bowed to each other — then lie
motioned me to resume my seat, and throw-
ing himself into an easy-chair, inquired,
" To what fortunate circumstances am I
to attribute the honour of this visit, Mr.
LuttreU ? "
152 My Last Love,
He laid such a stress on the last two
words, that I knew in a moment that he had
neither forgotten nor forgiven me.
'^ I come here on behalf of your wife, Sir
Walter," I replied calmly.
'^I suspected as much," he said, and his
face flushed, and his eyes sparkled. ^^I
can hear nothing on, I can brook no inter-
ference in, the matter."
" Pardon me, Sir Walter, but you must,"
I answered. ^^ I am here as Lady Surry's
next friend — not as her legal adviser — I am
here as her father might be were he living,
or as her brother, if she possessed one, to
try to put a wrong right between you."
^^ It is impossible," he answered. ^'I^o-
thing can ever be right between us again ;
she has left her home of her own accord, and
she shall never enter these doors more ! "
^' You are quite sure of that ? " I said.
"As sure as that I am standing here,"
He had risen in his excitement, and was-
All Wro7ig. 153
standing beside the library table, with his
clenched hand resting upon it.
^' Pray do not agitate yourself — sit down,"
I suggested. It was a cool thing to say to
a man in his own house, but he did as I
bade him, and resumed his seat. ^^ I have
no wish to proceed to extreme measures at
present," I went on. ^^I have come down
from London to talk the matter over with
• you quietly, man to man."
^^I have told you already I will not dis-
cuss it," he said.
^^ And I have told you that I mean you
to hear me. Of course," I went on hur-
riedly, ^' I have only listened to one side
of the story — that related by Lady Surry —
but so far as I understood, there cannot be
a question of her entire innocence."
^' The question of her guilt or innocence
is one which shall never be entered upon
privately or publicly by me," he answered.
^' She has left her home, she has virtually
ceased to be my wife, and she can never in
154 My Last Love.
the future be more to me than she is at this
^^You think it then fair to condemn a
woman upon mere suspicion ? "
" Suspicion, sir! have I not ample proof?"
'^ I think not," was my answer. '^You
have not a tittle of evidence which you
could take before any judge or jury in the
^^ I never intend to take it before judge
or jury," he exclaimed.
^^ Possibly not, but she may, and it is to
avert so terrible a calamity that I am now
I said this very slowly and deliberately,
and I could see it produced its impression.
Sir Walter had looked at the matter hitherto
entirely from one point of view — his own —
the idea of Eose taking any action had evi-
dently never occurred to him, and he sat
thinking over my words, whilst I went on.
'' You have condemned an innocent and
helpless woman on mere suspicion, you have
All Wrong, 155
separated her from her children without a
shadow of real proof against her, you have
done what you never dare have done had
she owned a single male relative "
^^Stop!" exclaimed the baronet. ''I
x^annot allow assertions such as these to pass
uncontradicted. I had ample reason for the
course I adopted. Even her own mother
•says I have not been unduly harsh."
'^ Sir Walter Surry/' I replied, '^before
you ever beheld your wife's mother, I was
well acquainted with her, and considering
the extent of our mutual knowledge, you
are not, I presume, going to take shelter
behind her petticoats. She never cared for
her daughter, she never gave her love or
tenderness, and she sides with you now not
only because you are the stronger power,
but because she is, and has always been,
jealous of her daughter, and desired to
secure for herself the man who has been the
^cause of all this unhappiness between your-
rself and your wife."
156 My Last Love,
'^ Your authority for this ? " he inquired.
''Nay, your authority rather for vile and
wicked calumnies against your wife, who
has never wronged you in thought or word or
deed, but whom you drove from your home,
to seek the advice of the only true friend
she possessed in all the earth."
''It is perhaps as well to be accurate,"
retorted Sir Walter, with an angry sneer.
" It does not appear to me that you have
exactly described your position."
"I do not know what system of morals
may obtain in your rank," I replied, hotly, for
his tone was as insulting as his meaning was
offensive, " but in mine, when a man marries
it is thought only decent that if ever he have
been the lover of another woman, he should
try to forget the fact. My feeling towards
Lady Surry now is as pure as it was when I
carried her home a child to her father's
house. What the loss of her proved to me^
neither you nor any other human being can,
ever imagine — how it changed me and myr
All Wrong. 157
life no one may ever know — but I did not
come here to talk about myself. I have
come to say you have committed a great
wrong, wbicli you must and shall set right."
He did not take this speech angrily, as
might have been expected ; he sat silent for
a minute, and then, careful not to lose my
advantage, I went on. I told him how I
had seen the man the cause of all this
unhappiness riding years before with Eose,
how she had left him to come and speak to
me, how I had since questioned her about
the events of that time, and elicited that he
had then proposed for her and been rejected.
I afterwards proceeded to relate hoAV I had
sought him in London, and entreated him to
explaia the reason which could possibly
have emboldened him to address the letters to
Lady Surry which had excited her husband's
anger. I prayed of him if he had preserved
any of her notes to let me see them.
^'I have every line in my pocket, Sir
Walter, she ever wrote to him," I finished.
158 My Last Love.
'^ No human being could extract conscious-
ness of guilt out of them. She was foolish
and frightened, and even imprudent, I
admit, but remember it was your own
neglect which laid her open to his impor-
tunities. Even had Lady Surry gone off
with him, there is no one who, knowing all
the circumstances, could say otherwise than
that the fault lay with you. "Will you
read those letters ? "
" I will not,'' he said. '' My mind is
quite made up about the matter. You have'
probably meant well in coming here, but
you might have saved yourself the trouble.
My wife shall never return here."
^' Is that your final answer ? " I asked.
^^It is my final answer," he repeated.
^' I will never live with a woman who has
been even talked about. Had she ever
cared for me, ever loved me, ever married
me for anything but wealth and position,
this thing could not have happened. No
man would have dared to insult her with
the mention of his love."
All Wrong. 159
''I will leave these letters with you," I
said, more shaken by his words and manner
than I should then have cared to acknow-
ledge. ^^ Whether you read or not, I trust
to your honour to return them. I procured
them with infinite difficulty, and it was not
till I made Mr. Lovell Allen understand /
intended Lady Surry should for the future
be protected from him, and that she should
be put right with the world, if not with
you, that he gave way. I had another
indirect hold over him, too, or perhaps he
might not have proved so docile ; but at all
events there are her letters, and if you take
my advice you will read them carefully."
^^ Keep them and your advice also, sir,"
"You positively refuse then to do justice
to Lady Surry ? " I said, rising.
" I have done her full and sufficient jus-
tice," he replied.
"If that be yoiu* belief," I remarked, "it
will then become my duty to counsel Lady
i6o My Last Love,
Surry to seek the advice of some respectable
solicitor, and to take whatever steps he may
recommend for the purpose of re-establishing
" You intend then to constitute yourself
the champion of a married woman," he said
with a sneer, which proved my last threat
had taken effect. ^' It is a thankless and a
dangerous office. As you have given me so
much valuable advice gratuitously, let me
return the compliment by saying I should
recommend you not to meddle in affairs that
in no way concern you."
I turned to leave the room sick at heart —
I had done my best, and my best had failed
— I thought of the sweet, pitiful yearning
face. I marvelled how I was ever to tell
her, how merciless and stony he had proved.
There did not seem another word of argu-
ment at my disposal ; I could only say to
him just what I felt, and I said it.
^' God help any married woman whose
husband turns against her — for she is more
All Wrong, 161
lonely than a widow. I marvel, Sir Walter,
how you dared marry a mere child like that,
meaning to take no better care of her than yon
have done. Hers has been a wretched lot —
mother and husband alike cruel and neglect-
ful. When I think of her as I first saw her,
a lonely delicate little creature, in terror of
a harsh mother, and when I think of her as
I saw her in my chambers in London, a still
more desolate woman, weeping over your
cruel injustice, I feel a pity for her I could
not speak, and an indignation against you I
could not express."
And with that confession of faith, as there
was nothing more to be gained by civility or
diplomacy, I left the room, Sir Walter cere-
moniously opening the door for me to pass
out, and bowing haughtily in answer to my
The footman preceded me through the
hall, and with a ceremony equal to that of his
master, opened the front door to afford me
egress. I walked down the avenue, I passed
VOL. III. M
1 62 My Last Love.
through the entrance gates, where the lodge-
keeper curtseyed to me as before. I walked
straight back to the inn, where I hastily-
swallowed some cold meat and bread whilst
a gig was being got ready to take me to the
station ; then buttoning up my coat and
wrapping my rug about me, I drove off, the
well-remembered landscape stretching away
in the distance, sweet and peaceful as of old,
with as sad a heart as I had carried in my
breast for many and many a long day.
"When I arrived at the station, the first
person I saw was Sir Walter Surry, mounted
on a magnificent black horse that stood
pawing with its feet and champing at the
bit, anxious apparently to be off again,
though it was evident he had been ridden to
the station at no gentle pace.
" One word with you, Mr. Luttrell, if you
please," said Sir Walter, and as I jumped
from the gig he alighted from his steed.
^' You may as well leave me those letters
you spoke of; you shall receive them back
again* quite safely,"
All Wrong, 163
I could have uttered a shout of joy at
hearing this, for I knew he was relenting,
but I was careful not to betray my feelings ;
so without a word I handed him the packet,
raised my hat, and hurried on to the plat-
form just in 'time to secure a comfortable
seat with my back to the engine, a matter
about which I am very particular.
It is marvellous how careful we become
of our bodies, when all the hope and love
and freshness that made existence so bright
to us has departed just like '^ Life's young
I TRAVELLED back to town a very happy
man. I was not afraid now of meeting Eose,
for though there was no positive good news
to report, at least the tidings I could now
bear were hopeful. It all, however, went
to prove that a man's deliberate words may
often avail very little, that it is generally
the arrow shot at a venture which hits the
mark, after a careful aim has failed. It was
the chance sentence I had spoken in my
pain and my anger which pierced Walter
Surry's coat of mail, which penetrated his
vanity and his pride, and made him remember
Reconciled. 1 65
that, after all, there might be another side
to the question at which it was his duty to
look. She was the mother of his children,
the wife of his choice, and I felt satisfied
that, although he might not relent at once, he
would relent in time, and taking Eose back,
make her a more careful, tender, loving
husband than had ever been the case before.
On my return to town, I intended also to
have a serious conversation with Eose her-
self, to point out the mistakes she had made,
to induce her to strive in the future better
to comprehend her husband's nature. I
doubted the chances of my success, but I
thought if she would listen to advice from
any one she would from me, and strive to
follow it ; at all events, I meant to try. So
I spent most part of the journey considering
what I wanted to say and how I had best
say it — most of all how I could induce her
to write such a letter to Sir Walter as
might touch his heart and induce him to
believe she was not so entirely indifferent
i66 My Last Love,
to her husband as she was devoted to her
By the time I reached Euston Square it
was late, and the streets as I drove through
them to my chambers looked cheerless and
sloppy. A drizzling rain was falling ; the
few people who were abroad hurried along
with umbrellas up, the air was misty and
heavy and dull, and a depression for which
I could in no way account, seeing that busy
men are not usually much affected by ex-
ternal influences, took possession of me.
I tried to cheer myself by thinking of the
comparatively good news I should be able
to communicate. I pictured the sweet smile
that would thank me, the grateful eyes
lifted for a moment to mine, and then I
understood what was the matter with me,
that the jade Memory was at her tricks
again, and that it behoved me to be very,
very careful of my own soul, lest for one mo-
ment I should forget Eose was Lady Surry
and I Catharine LuttrelPs husband.
Oh I my dear, I loved you first aud I
loved you last with a passion no one but
myself can even imagine ; but I thank God
now to remember that through all that time,
which was a time of struggle and anguish
to me, when you trusted youi' future,
your fair fame, and yourself in my care, I
never held your hand, or looked into your
changed face with a thought I should have
minded the angels recording in the Eternal
It would soon be over, however, I hoped
— the ordeal ; the weary self-restraint ; the
the continual temptation to forget, to believe
the time of our enforced separation a dream,
and that we might still be more to one
another than we had been in the happy years
Honestly I had served her, in all honour
I had held aloof from her. She came to me
as to her only friend, and as a friend I
worked for her.
What if I could not quite forget ? if I felt
1 68 My Last Love.
it needful to keep out of her way ? ah ! my
reader, I was only flesh and blood, and I had
loved this woman once with a love which I
knew now could never die.
When I got out of the cab the rain was
still falling, so I bade the man wait for me,
as I merely intended calling at my chambers
to inquire what letters there might be lying
there ere hurrying home.
Since Lady Surry came to me I had
worked later than ever in Pump Court, but
I meant to reach home on this particular
night before she retired to her room, so as
to tell her the result of my journey.
Full of this design, I hurried into Pump
Court, and so up some stone steps to the
door of the house where were my chambers.
It was wide open, and, to my amazement,
I saw Joan standing in the hall talking to
'^Oh, here is Mr. Luttrell ! " exclaimed
the latter, who stood facing the court, and
consequently beheld my entrance.
^^ Tom, I am so thankful you have come
back," Joan said, laying an emphasis on the
thankful, which filled me with an indescrib-
^^ What is it?" I asked—'' my father ''
''No, there is no one dead," she said,
answering my unfinished sentence and my
unspoken thought. " Let us go upstairs
for a moment, and I will tell you why I am
here," and she led the waj' to my room,
where a fire was burning, and the lamp
Joan closed the door, and then came close
beside me. There was a look in her face
that made me tremble, though I could not
have told what I dreaded.
" Before I say a word," she began, " you
must promise not to be angry."
"Do not be foolish, Joan," I answered;
" tell me in one word what is wrong."
" Promise me," she insisted.
"Well, I will promise — go on."
"The fact is, Tom," she hesitated, and
170 My Last Love,
then proceeded — ''somehow Catharine has
ascertained that matters are not all right
between Sir Walter and Eose. Some kind
friend has been making her believe there
is going to be a divorce, and all sorts of
things — and "
'' Finish, Joan," I said.
"JSTot whilst you look like that," Joan
"Look like what?" I answered guiltily,
and, making a desperate effort, I hid the
demon that I knew was glaring out of my
'' Well, you know it was natural," Joan
resumed, '' Catharine thought we had all
been deceiving her, and she could not quite
forget how fond you used to be of Eose —
and some one must have been advising her
badly — for "
" If you do not finish, Joan, you will
send me insane," I said. " What has
Catharine said or done that should bring
you here at this time of the night ?"
'^ Oh ! Tom, you must not be angry — but
she said Eose and she could not stay in the
same house any longer, and so Eose and I
^' And where is Eose ?"
'^ She is waiting for me in a cab in Essex
Street ; it was too late to come down Middle
'* Come along, Joan," I cried, turning
towards the door, and my voice sounded
to myself hoarse and changed as I
"What do you mean to do?" Joan
" See whether Mrs. Luttrell will refuse
to receive any person I choose to take to my
house. Rose shall stay there, by "
But Joan covered my mouth with her
" Tom," she began, hanging on my arm,
and hindering my progress from the room,
" listen to me. If you take Eose back there
you will kill her — do you understand me ?
172 My Last Love.
— kill her ! She is not strong enough to
endure a scene ; she is quite exhausted now
with driving for so many hours. The best
thing we can do is to take her to some hotel
for the night, and get quiet lodgings to-
morrow. We have been going about all
the evening trying to get apartments, for I
knew you did not want her to go to an
hotel ; but I could not find a suitable place
where they would take us in on the instant.
Oh ! Tom, do not be angry, but think what
is best for Eose ; do not think of anybody
but her ; if you do, you will only be making
bad worse. Where had we better take her ?
she is perfectly worn out. Your house-
keeper has been telling me about some
lodgings in IN'orfolk Street, but she does
not know whether they are vacant."
^^ Let us go back to Eose, and I will see
what can be done," I answered, and Joan,
wrapping her shawl closely about her, ran
down the stairs and out into the drizzling
Reconciled, 1 73
I felt like one crazed as I followed her.
To think of Eose being driven forth like
this — driven forth with contumely — driven
forth from my house by my wife ! I do not
know what I said in my despair — I only
remember Joan bidding me hush — I only
remember staggering thi'ough the night,
through the courts and passages of the
Temple, like one drunk, and reaching the
door of the cab, where she sat huddled up in
one corner, crying like a child.
'' Why did you not take her to South-
gate ?" I asked Joan, savagely.
'^ Because she would not go," Joan
answered, and Eose moaned out that she
could not take herself and her troubles into
any person's house again.
I went and secured the lodgings men-
tiond by my housekeeper, and then brought
Eose and Joan to them. When I assisted
the former to alight, however, she fainted
away in my arms, and I carried her up to the
dreary sitting-room, where the maid-of-all-
work was striving to kindle a fire.
174 My Last Love,
I never beheld anything in all my life
which impressed me with such a sense of
utter desolation and misery as that scene —
the cold, cheerless room, the nntidy servant,
the dim light provided by a couple of com-
posite candles, the dark bed-chamber re-
vealed through folding-doors that stood
partly open, Joan and the landlady trying
to bring Eose — what the latter called ^^ to.'*
Oh ! merciful Providence ! will the events
of that night ever fade from, my recollection?
shall I ever forget the devil which stirred
within me at that sight.
^^Tom," Joan said at last, ^' you had
better go for a doctor."
And I went.
By the time I returned — it was a long
time, for not a medical man I called upon
was at home — they had undressed Eose, and
got her into bed ; and whilst I sat in the
front room, the doctor went in to see her,
and I waited in an agony of terror till he
should return and give me his report.
" I do not think you need be uneasy, sir,"
he said, when he had creaked slowly and
solemnly back to where I stood. " Your
good lady is very delicate — very."
How I hated the man, even whilst I
mentally blessed him.
"The lady is not my wife, doctor," I
interrupted ; " but I have known her since
she was a child, and my sister will remain
with her here till she is strong enough to be
I said all this quite steadily, for I was
determined there should be no misconception
on the part of anybody as to the relation in
which we stood.
'^ But she is married ? " the doctor ques-
'' Yes — but her husband is not in
London at present. Should you, however,
consider her case at all serious, I will tele-
graph for him."
" There is no immediate danger," he
answered, thoughtfully ; " she is certainly
176 My Last Love.
very delicate, but still, with care and
nourishment — I can tell better in the morn-
ing," he hurried on — "I will write a pre-
scription now, if you favour me with pen
and ink. Pray what is the name of my
For one second I hesitated, then said,
^^ Lady Surry."
^^ I beg your pardon," he remarked po-
^^Lady Surry," I repeated still more
distinctly ; then, perceiving he could not
quite understand me, I added — '^Wife to
Sir "Walter Surry, of Grayborough."
He did not make a remark after this, he
only wrote out his prescription, pocketed
his fee, and departed. Clearly a discreet
man, who, though he comprehended there
was a mystery, did not think it his duty to
inquire further into it.
After he was gone, Joan came to me.
Eose was, she said, better. I need not be
unhappy. Had I any news ?
^^ Yes," I answered ; ^^ I had seen Sir
Walter, and thought he would ultimately
*' That will be a tonic for her in itself,"
Joan exclaimed; ^'and now, dear Tom, I
want to say one single word to you before
you go home."
^^ I am not going home to-night," I an-
swered. " I will get this prescription made
up, leave it here, and then return to Pump
Court. I shall be round early in the morn-
ing to know how Kose has rested."
'^ Eut, Tom, what does this mean ? "
'^ That I am going to stay for the night
in Pump Court — and that reminds me the
cab which brought me from the station has
been waiting for a couple of hours in Pleet
Street. I must go and dismiss it."
^^ Tom," she put a hand on each shoulder,
and looked steadily into my face.
'' Yes, Joan."
^* You are not going to quarrel with your
wife ? "
VOL. III. N
178 My Last Love,
" You should never interfere between man
and wife, Joan; what I choose to do, or
leave undone, that I shall do, or not do, you
may depend upon it,"
^^ On the whole it is perhaps as well you
should not return home to-night."
" I am surely the best judge of that."
" Ah ! Tom, for the sake of dear old
times do not talk in that cold, short, cynical
way. It will not make things a bit better,
and it makes you — oh ! ever so much
And then she fell to crying, and I kissed
and bade her hold her peace.
Next morning the report was that Eose
had rested tolerably; but the doctor said
she had caught cold, and must be kept very
quiet ; and so she went on for some days^
sometimes staying in her bed, sometimes
lying on the sofa, but always remaining very
delicate and weakly, and still there came no
letter from Sir Walter Surry, although she
at my earnest entreaty had written to him.
At the end of that time Joan sent for
further advice, which came in a natty-
brougham, and assumed the shape of a
portly gentleman, who carried an immense
watch, and treated Doctor Snelling with
exaggerated respect, insisting on his going
first, and listening to all he had to say with
an air of intensest interest.
When they had consulted together, and
seen the patient once more, and the great
man had written out his prescription and
pocketed Ids fee, I waylaid him on the way
to his brougham, and asked his real opinion
^^For if there be any actual danger," I
suggested, ^^ I must telegraph for her hus-
The portly gentleman stood still on the
pavement, and looked at me from head to
foot, as though there were something sin-
gular about my organization which it
would please him to anatomize; then he
i8o My Last Love,
" If there be any actual danger — my
dear sir, the lady's life is not worth a
month's purchase. She is dying at this
moment as fast as she knows how. God
bless the man — why what are you to
her ? "
I do not remember much about that day.
I telegraphed to Sir "Walter Surry — I went
into court ; but I cannot recollect what I
said ; it was all right, though, I suppose, as
no complaint of carelessness ever reached
my ears. I went back to my chambers after
Court, and found Sir "Walter Surry there
When he asked about her, I inquired
what it signified to him. He had been
doubtful, I felt, as to whether the whole
thing were not a ruse ; but when he beheld
me standing looking at the fire — which I
could not see clearly — he understood there
was no deception — that m?/ Eose — mine
through all — was gliding swiftly away.
Reconciled. 1 8 1
"What is the matter, what was the cause
of it ? " he asked at length.
" Do not ask me," I said, '' my heart is
broken." And I verily believe it did break
when that portly gentleman told me in the
sullen gloom of a winter's morning that she
was dying as fast as she knew how.
For I could not disguise from myself the
fact that my wife had killed her — that the
fragile plant, which might have been tended
and fostered back to health, was unable to
bear the exposure and fatigue of that weary
winter's evening. I ought never to have
taken her to my home — never told Catharine
falsehoods about her — never put it in the
power of a cold, merciless woman to speak to
Eose as I knew she had been spoken to —
never left her to be thrust out from warmth
and shelter into the drizzling rain and the
gathering night, as though she had been the
vilest of her sex.
Heaven forgive me ! — I hated my wife
then, and I made a vow that the same roof
1 82 My Last Love,
should never cover the twain of us again for
any longer period than it would require to
make the final arrangements I intended.
After a short time we — Sir Walter and I
— went round into Norfolk Street, where
Eose, wrapped in shawls, was lying on a
sofa drawn close up to the fire.
He did not wish her to be told of his
arrival, or prepared for his appearance, so
we walked straight up together into the
drawing-room, where the servant said we
should find her.
He never asked if she were better or
worse, and the only sign of anxiety T could
trace in his manner was an involuntary
pause ere he turned the handle of the door.
For a moment he seemed half afraid of
entering, then, collecting his courage, he
crossed the threshold.
As he did so, Eose languidly raised her
head, then almost shrieking out '^ Walter,''
stretched her arms towards him.
That was enough ; the past with its fear
Reconciled. 1 83
and its suspicion fled away on the instant,
and they were once again all they had ever
•been to one another, that, and perhaps a
little more ; he was kneeling by her side in
an instant, kissing her, and sobbing out —
" Oh ! Eose, my poor darling ! "
Then Joan and I retreated from the apart-
ment, and left the husband and wife alone
It was the most natural thing in the world
that Sir Walter should desire Lady Surry's
immediate removal to her own home ; and it
pleased me to see that, whereas a week
previously he had declared she should never
return to his house, he was now almost mad
with anxiety to get her there—not indeed to
Grayborough, for that was impossible — but
back to his town mansion.
At first I urged him not to attempt taking
her away until the morning, but Joan
advanced so many reasons why it would be
hetter for the removal to occur in the evening
Conclusio7i. 1 85
than at noon, that we at length despatched
a messenger to the housekeeper, bidding her
have all things in readiness, whilst I went
out and hired the most comfortable brougham
I could find to convey her to her husband's
When everything was ready, Joan enve-
loped Eose in wraps, and I stood aside for
Sir Walter to carry her downstairs ; but, to
my astonishment, he drew back.
"Luttrell," he said, laying his hand on
my arm, " I seem to have no strength left,
I cannot do it. Will you ? "
I did not answer. I only took up the light
burden, and bore it to the carriage, where
my sister placed pillows under her head, and
placed her feet on the opposite seat, and
folded the shawls and rugs over her tenderly.
After this Joan and I stepped aside, feeling
our part was done, — that we had given up
Eose to the only person who held a right-
ful claim upon her ; but Sir Walter, turning
to me and my sister, said —
1 86 My Last Love,
" You will come with us — oh ! Miss
Luttrell, do not leave her yet ! "
'-^ If you wish it," I answered, ^^ we will
<3ome, but not with you."
So Joan and I walked up together into
the Strand, where I hailed a cab, and bade
the man drive as fast as he could to Sir
"Walter Surry's house.
We arrived there some minutes before the
brougham, and Joan, telling the housekeeper
who she was, went up to see that Lady
Surry's room had been prepared for her,
whilst I remained in the dining-room waiting
There had been a time when I never
thought to stand in Walter Surry's house
with his or my own goodwill, but with the
shadow of death stealing on towards that
stately mansion it was no time to revive old
feuds, to cherish mortal hatred. He had
taken her from, me, but there was one
mightier than man coming to take her from
him, and my soul was so full of pity for the
-grief and remorse I beheld written on his
face that it could not remember my own
desolate life, or the heart which his theft
had left empty for ever.
When the carriage arrived, without
asking him whether I should or should not,
I lifted Eose out as gently and tenderly as
I could, and merely begging him to show me
the way, carried her up the wide staircase and
along a corridor, where my feet sank noise-
lessly into the thick soft carpet, to her room.
She had fainted again, and I laid her down
upon a couch, whilst the doctor, who had
been abeady summoned, bustled up to her
side and commenced applying restoratives.
My part was done, the need for me existed
no longer, so I walked to the doorway, and
then paused and looked back. They had
thrown aside the light shawl which enveloped
her head, and her long hair rippled over her
shoulders and fell in waves of silken softness
almost to the ground. Her face was white
.as that of a corpse, and the blue-veined
1 88 My Last Love,
eyelids were closed upon the sweet pleading
eyes. One thin hand drooped over the side
of the conch. There was death in every
line of her face, in the very outline of her
figure, and unable to help myself I strode
back to where she lay, and taking her hand,
pressed it to my lips, and heart, while she
remained unconscious of me or my madness.
Then 1 left the room and her — it was the
last time, living or dead, I ever beheld the
face of Eose Surry.
Down the staircase Sir "Walter followed
me. Pausing at the dining-room door I
asked him to favour me with a moment's
private conversation, and when he entered
the apartment I said,
^^ Do you wish my sister to remain here,
or can she return with me now ? "
*^ If she could remain," he answered, ^^ oh I
if only she could remain ? "
*' She shall do so if you desire it," I
replied ; '-'- but if she stay I must stay until
the arrival of Lady Surry's mother."
^^ Her mother may see Eose if she wish,"
answered Sir "Walter, " but she shall never
'-'- Then it will be impossible for my sister
to do so," I said. " We are not low enough
in rank for her to stay here exactly as a
servant, and we are not high enough to
stand above the world's opinion."
'^Luttrell, do not be hard upon me," he
answered, and I then knew I had been a
little bitter in iny humility ; ^' do not leave
me alone in my trouble, there is no man
living I should so earnestly desire to call
friend as yourself, and as for Rose, I
know there is no woman she would so
much desire to have with her as your
^^ In that case," I said, ^^ I will, with
your permission, send for my mother, and
she can remain here till — "
There was no need for me to finish that
sentence ; we both knew there could but be
one possible ending to it.
I go My Last Love.
Next day my mother arrivedj and I went
back to my chambers and my work.
"With regard to Catharine, I had not yet
seen her. I did not mean to see her till all
was oyer, and though Mr. Sherlock came
and Mrs. Sherlock wrote, persuading me to
go home, I gave both but one stereotyped
answer, '-'- ^NTot yet."
I could not forgive her ; I meant never to
forgive her. I did not tell Mr. Sherlock
Eose was dying, and reconciled to her
husband — that her children had been given
back to her to hold till death claimed her.
I only remained obstinately firm. '^Not
yet," I said, and Mr. Sherlock went away
Before that month expired she was dead.
One morning Sir Walter entered my
chambers, and I knew by his face what had
" Should you like to see her ? " he asked.
During her illness he had often asked me
the same question, and I had always answered,
him '-^ IS'o." I answered him ^^ !N'o " now.
Conclusion. 19 r
"You will come to tlie funeral, though,"
he said ; but I shook my head.
" Is there never to be peace between us ? '^
" I trust there will never be war," I
answered, and there never has been.
That night I went into my own house, and
found Catharine dressed out for a party.
She received me as a criminal, heaping
reproaches on my head, exhausting her
feminine vocabulary for phrases suitable to
describe the enormity of my crimes. I had
brought the good-for-nothing woman there
simply to have opportunities of making love
to her ; I had laid out a deliberate scheme
of wickedness and villany.
" Your sister, whom I always disliked and
distrusted," continued Catharine, " aided
and abetted your deception. I suppose you
thought because she was Lady Surry I
should bear it. Lady, indeed ! Had I my
will I know what I should do with her and
such as her ; and as for you, sii', I wonder
192 My Last Love,
at your daring to return home in this manner
to me, after the weeks in which you have no
doubt been living with that wretch."
^^Have you quite finished your instructive
discourse?" I inquired when at length she
paused, literally because, I think, she had
not another word to say, "for if you have
there is one question I should like to ask
"What is it?"
" You hated Lady Surry very much, you
were very jealous of her, were you not ?"
"And with reason," she retorted, " with
good and sufficient reason."
"You will be glad, then, to know that
she is dead, — that she died at half-past
eight this morning, — that her husband, who
is almost distracted, brought me this news,
— and that I have come here to-night merely
to say your senseless jealousy, your pitiless
cruelty, killed her."
With that I rose to leave the :oom, but
Catharine rushed after me. "It is not
true ; it cannot be true," she almost slirieked.
^^ She was delicate, but not "
" She is dead," I repeated, " you killed
her, and I will never forgive you — never ; I
renounce you this night. From this hour I
have no wife and you no husband."
She caught my arm, but I shook her off;
she seized my coat, but I pulled it out of
her grasp. It was hard for her, I see it all
now, but I had not a thought then
save for Eose thrust out from my house
with bitter words and bitterer innuen-
dos. I had not even a comer in my
heart for the wife who, fancying herself
wronged, had cast forth the intruder, reck-
less — as all such women are — of conse-
quences, forgetful of mercy, oblivious to
After that there comes a time in my life,
the memory of which I should like to blot
out — a time when I lived utterly alone,
working hard it is true, and maintaining my
wife and family, but leading a godless,
194 ^y Last Love,
hopeless, desperate sort of existence, un-
cheered by a single ray of light.
I made money for the only time in my
recollection faster than I wanted it — I had
to send away briefs — I had to turn a deaf
ear to the solicitations of publishers. Fame
came to me also ; I climbed high in my
profession ; I wrote works which were
eagerly sought after — outsiders, I doubt
not, envied me my success, ay, and perhaps
grudged it too, but they need not have done
so. If the fruit were fair, there was rot-
tenness at the core ; go where I would, do
what I might, I could never get that night
out of my mind when I found the poor child
sitting in a common street cab, sobbing be-
cause she had been so evilly treated by the
woman it was my misfortune to call wife.
I took the matter to heart as I have never
taken anything since, as I never shall
anything again. I brooded over it — I
mourned about it — I had such an impotent
yearning agony in my soul at times, that it
seemed to me I could not live, remembering
why Eose had died. And then I used to
think ^^ Oh ! if I had only gone to see her
again even in her coffin," but I could not
have done it. After that hour, when I saw
her lying senseless in her husband's house,
I do not think wild horses could have drawn
me up those stairs to look at his wife once
To this day, however, I could not describe
the precise sort of feeling I entertained for
Bose during that last part of our acquaint-
anceship. It was one I should certainly
have been neither afraid nor ashamed to
analyse for the benefit of any one, had
analysis been possible, and yet it darkened
my life more certainly than even the tender
passion of my boyhood.
In the twilight she seemed to come back
to me with her soft gentle ways, her sweet
loveliness, her tender grace of manner, tone,
and movement, and I felt at times as if I
should certainly go madj when I remembered
196 My Last Love,
that she walked the earth no more ; that let
time bring what it wonld, it could never
bear back n23on its cruel waves that which
it had taken from me — the child — the girl
— the woman Eose.
But this is folly, and I must finish. At
what precise period a doubt as to the justice
and rectitude of my own conduct entered my
mind, I cannot exactly tell, but I think it
was one evening as I walked slowly through
the Temple, thinking about Walter Surry's
harshness, and Walter Surry's remorse, that
it occurred to me, whether the course I had
adopted was the right one, or whether I had
in my way not erred almost as much as my
wife herself in hers.
I had married the woman — I had vowed
to love, protect, cherish her, and behold for
the sake of another, who could never even
had she lived been aught to me, I cast her
oflP, her and the children, which were mine
I did not in the least believe what Joan
said, namely, that it was Catharine's love for
me which made her pitiless towards Eose, but
slowly by sure and almost imperceptible de-
grees I came to see that, no matter what my
wife might have been or might have done,
I had not been right, and so after a long
time I went back at last and told her if she
were willing to forgive and to forget I was
willing to do likewise.
^^ I ^id not make sufficient allowance for
you," I finished, and Catharine never con-
tradicted me. She had talked the matter
over with her female friends till the memory
of Eose ailing and weakly driven out to die,
faded away, and no image remained on the
canvas of recollection save the fact that I
had been a great deal too fond of another
woman, and left my home and family be-
cause she died.
But for all that, Catharine was very glad
indeed to welcome me back, to condone my
misdeeds, and to forget her own. We cele-
brated our reconciliation I remember with
198 My Last Love,
a dinner party, and Catharine wore a violet-
coloured velvet dress, with which I pre-
sented her, and looked very handsome
indeed, for the colour became her admirably.
After that we had a series of entertain-
ments, and the world at length thoroughly
understanding I had seen the folly of my
ways and the wickedness of my devices, felt
satisfied and received me back into it»
And so the old existence was resumed as
though nothing had ever occurred to break
its monotony, and but for the visits which
Sir Walter Surry frequently paid to the
cottage at Southgate I might sometimes
have been tempted to fancy the whole epi-
sode a dream — a fantastic vision of my
otherwise prosaic life.
Meeting, however, that tall handsome
man every time I went to see my parents,
I could not think the past a dream or the
present quite satisfactory.
^^ He is coming after you, Joan, I sup^
pose," was my somewhat irritable remark
one afternoon when he and I had crossed
each other's path once again, and though
Joan said ^^IN'onsense, Tom," I knew quite
well it was so, and that some day I should
lose my sister and see her married to the
man for whose sake she had refused many
an eligible offer.
He should have married her at first.
Joan was really the wife Sir Walter Surry
wanted, and I know now he is far happier
with her than he ever was with the ewe
lamb he took from me, merely because, as it
sometimes seems to my imagination, I was
so poor that 5 had only one thing in all the
earth which appeared valuable in my eyes.
It came to marrying of course ultimately.
He proposed, , and Joan accepted, and when
the wedding took place I attended it in lieu
of my father, then growing old and infirm,
and gave the bride away.
But we have never visited each other
much — never been intimate in our acquaint-
200 My Last Love.
anceship — Joan is now, as I have said, a
very great lady, and her way and mine do
not lie together. She says this divergence
is my fault and of my seeking, but I do
not quite agree with this.
I think my path began to diverge from
that of most people when my life was thrown
out of gear the morning I saw Eose walk
out of church Walter Surry's wife.
And this is all my story which I began to
tell so long ago, and am only after months
and months able to finish to-night. There
is not much in it. For a moment I drop
my pen and recall the few incidents it con-
tains : a child standing by the water's edge,
a girl listening to a love tale, apple blossoms
strewing the grass her dear feet press, two
most happy wandering together side by
side, two most wretched cast out of their
paradise, two meeting once more after years
of separation, two parted till Eternity.
Here lies the miniature of my first love;
there hangs the portrait of my last, and yet
Conclusion, 20 1
they are both the likenesses of one and the
same person, for I never have had but one
love in all my life, and I never shall have
another till the skeleton rider comes to fetch
me from brief and book.
The story which I am about to tell is not
a chapter out of my own life. The incidents
which go to furnish it were enacted years
before I was bom ; the performers in it
died forty years ago, and have left nor son
nor heir to inherit the memory.
I question whether the man live (the
woman may, seeing women are more endur-
ing than men) who could identify the names
of the persons concerning whom I shall
have hereafter to speak, but the facts hap-
Many a time I have heard them rehearsed,
many a night I have sat on the hearthrug
fascinated, listening to how Mi\ Dwarris
2o6 Forewarned^ Forearmed.
dreamt a dream, and many a night I have
passed through the folding-doors that led
from the outer to the lesser hall, and walked
to bed along the corridors thinking trem-
blingly of the face which continually re-
appeared — of the journey in the coach and
the post-chaise — all the particulars of which
I purpose in due time to recount. Further,
it is in my memory, that I was wont to
place a pillow against my back in the night
season, lest some vague enemy should enter
my room and strike me under the fifth rib ;
and I went through much anguish when
the Storm King was abroad, fancyiQg I
heard stealthy footsteps in the long gallery,
and the sound of another person's breathing
in the room beside my own.
But in spite of this, Mr. Dwarris' dream
was one of the awful delights of my child-
hood ; and when strangers gathered around
the social hearth, and the conversation
turned upon supernatural appearances, as it
often did in those remote days in lonely
Forewarned^ Forearmed, 207
country houses, it was always with a thrill
of pleasure that I greeted the opening pas-
sages of this, the only inexplicable yet true
story we possessed.
It was the fact of this possession, perhaps,
which made the tale dear to me — other
stories belonged to other people ; it was
their friends or their relatives who had seen
ghosts, and been honoured with warnings,
but Mr. Dwarris' dream was our property.
"We owned it as we owned the old ash
tree that grew on the lawn. Though Mr.
Dwarris was dead and gone, though at the
age of threescore years and ten he had de-
parted from a world which had used him
very kindly, and which he had enjoyed
thoroughly, to another world that he only
knew anything of by hearsay, that in fact
he only believed in after the vague gentle-
manly sceptical fashion which was con-
sidered the correct thing about the begin-
ning of this century, still he had been a
friend of our quiet and non-illustrious
2o8 'Forewarned^ Forearmed.
In our primitive society lie had been con-
sidered a man of fashion, a person whose
opinions might safely be repeated, whose de-
cisions were not to be lightly contradicted.
He was kind enough in the days when
postage was very high (would those days
could come back again) to write long letters
to his good friends who lived far away from
Court, and craved for political and fashion-
able gossip — long letters filled with scraps of
news and morsels of scandal, which foi--
nished topics of conversation for many days
and weeks, and made pleasant little breaks
in the monotony of that country existence.
By my parents, and by the chosen friends
who were invited to dinner when he
honoured our poor house with his presence,
he was looked up to as a learned and
travelled man of the world.
He had read everthing at a time when
people did not read so much as is the case at
present. He had not merely made the grand
tour, but he had wintered frequently abroad,
Forewarned^ Forearmed. 209
and the names of princesses, duchesses, and
counts flowed as glibly off his tongue as
those of the vicar and family doctor from
the lips of less fortunate mortals.
The best china was produced, and the
children kept well out of the way while he
remained in the house.
The accessories of his toilette table were a
fearful mystery to our servants, and the plan
he had of leaving his vails under his bolster
or the soap dish, a more inscrutable mystery
He did not smoke, and though that was a
time when the reputation of hard drinking
carried with it no stigma — quite the reverse
indeed — he was temperate to a degree. While
not utterly insensible to the charms of female
beauty, he regarded the sex rather as a critical
than a devoted admirer, and he was wont to
consider any unusually handsome woman as
practically thrown away on our society.
He used to talk much of the ^ West End,'
VOL. in. p
210 Forewarned^ Forearmed.
and, to sum up the matter, lie spoke as one
Looking back at his pretensions from a
point of observation which has not been at-
tained without a considerable amount of ac-
quaintance, pleasant and otherwise, with men
of the same rank in life and standing in so-
ciety, I am inclined to think that Mr. Dwarris
was, to a certain extent, a humbug ; that he
was not such a great man as our neighbours
imagined, and that the style in which he lived
at home was much less luxurious than that in
which my parents considered it necessary to
indulge when he honoured us with a visit.
Further, I believe the time he spent with
us, instead of proving irksome and uncon-
genial to his superior mind, were periods
of the most thorough enjoyment. Looking
over his letters — which still remain duly
labelled and tied up — I can see the natural
man breaking through the conventional. I
can perceive how happy a change it was for
him to leave a life passed amongst people,
Forewarned^ Forearmed. 211
richer, better born, cleverer, more fashion-
able than himself, in order to stay with
fiiends who looked up to him, and believed
in their simplicity ; it was an honour to re-
ceive so great a man.
I understand that he had no genius, that
he had little talent, that he loved the world
and the high places thereof, that he had no
passion for anything whether in nature or
art, but that he had acquired a superficial
knowledge of most subjects, and that he
affected a fondness for painting, music,
sculpture, literature, because he considered
such fondness the mark of a refined mind,
and because the men and the women with
whom he associated were content to think so
But when he recalls with words of pleasure
the journey he and my father made through
the wilds of Connemara, when he speaks
with tenderest affection of his old friend
Woodville — (my maternal grandfather's
name was Woodville) — when he sends a
212 Forewarned^ Forearmed,
word of kindly remembrance to each of the
servants, who have been always happy to
see, and wait upon him, I feel that the gloss
and the pretension of learning were but super-
ficial, that the man had really a heart, which,
under happier auspices, would have rendered
him a more useful and beloved member
of society, instead of an individual in
whose acquaintance we merely felt a pride,
who was, as I have before said, one of our
He was never married ; he had no near
relatives so far as we ever knew, and he
lived all alone in a large house in a large
English town, which, for sufficient reasons,
I shall call Callersfield.
In his early youth he had been engaged
in business, but the death of a distant
relative leaving him independent of his own
exertions, he severed all connexion with
trade, and went abroad to study whatever
may be, in foreign parts, analogous to
'- Shakespeare and the musical glasses ' in
Forewarned^ Forearmed. 213
To the end of his life — long after travel-
ling became a much easier and safer matter
than it was towards the close of the last
century — he retained his fondness for con-
tinental wanderings, and my mother's
cabinets and my father's hot-houses* bore
ample testimony to the length of his
journeys and the strength of his friendship.
Seeds of rare plants, and bulbs from almost
every country in Europe, found their way
to our remote home, whilst curiosities of all
kinds were sent with the best wishes of ^ an
old friend,' to swell that useless olio of
oddities that were at once the wonder and
admiration of my juvenile imagination.
But at length all these good gifts came to
an end. No more lava snuff-boxes and
Pompeian vases ; no more corals, or fans, or
cameos, or inlaid boxes ; no more gorgeous
lilies or rare exotics ; for news arrived one
morning that the donor had started on his
last journey, and gone to that land whence
no presents can be delivered by coach, rail-
214 Forewarned^ Forearmed,
"way, or parcels company, to assuage the
grief of bereaved relatives. He was dead,
and in due time there arrived at our house
two of the most singular articles (as the
matter appears to me now), that were ever
forwarded without accessories of any kind
to set them off, to people who had really
been on terms of closest intimacy with the
One was a plaster bust of Mr. Dwarris^
the other a lithograph likeness of the same
The intrinsic value of the two might in
those days have been five shillings, but then,
as his heii's delicately put it, they knew
my parents would value these mementoes
of their lamented friend far beyond any
actual worth which they might possess.
Where, when the old home was broken
up, and the household gods scattered, that
bust vanished I can form no idea, but the
lithograph is still in my possession ; and as I
look at it I feel my mother's statement to-
Forewarned^ Forearmed^ 215
have been utterly true, namely, that Mr.
Dwarris was not a man either to be deluded
by his imagination, or to tell a falsehood
Perhaps in the next world some explana-
tion may have been vouchsafed to him about
his dream, but on this side the grave he
always professed himself unable to give the
slightest solution of it.
''I am not a man," he was wont to
declare, " inclined to believe in the super-
natural ; " and indeed he was not, whether
in nature or religion.
To be sure he was secretly disposed to
credit that great superstition which many
persons now openly profess — of an universe
without a Creator, of a future without a
Eedeemer — but still this form of credulity
proceeds rather from an imperfect develop-
ment of the reason than from a disordered
state of the imagination.
In the ordinary acceptation of the word
he was not superstitious. He was hard
2i6 Forewarned^ Forearmed,
headed and lie was cold-blooded — essen-
tially a man to be trusted implicitly wben
lie said such and such a thing had happened
within his own experience.
^^I never could account for it in any
way," he declared — '' and if it had chanced
to another person, I should have believed he
had made some mistake in the matter. For
this reason, I have always felt shy of re-
peating my dream — but I do not mind
telling it to you to-night."
And then he proceeded to relate the story
which thenceforth became our property — the
most enduring gift he ever gave us.
This is the tale he told while the wind
was howling outside, and the snow falling
upon the earth, and the woodfire crackling
and leaping as a fit accompaniment.
I did not hear him recite his adventures
— but I have often sat and listened while
the story was rehearsed to fresh auditors —
almost in his own words.
''The first time that I went abroad," he
Forewarned^ Forearmed, 217
began, '' I made acquaintance with Sir
Harry Hareleigh. How our acquaintance
commenced is of no consequence — but it
soon ripened into a close friendship, which
was only broken by his death. His father
and my father had been early friends also —
but worldly reverses had long separated our
family from that of the Hareleighs, and it
was only by the merest chance I resumed
my connection with it. Sir Harry was the
youngest son — but his brothers having all
died before their father, he came into his
title early — though he did not at the same
time succeed to any very great amount of
^^ A large but unentailed estate, owned
by a bachelor Ralph Hareleigh, would,
people imagined, ultimately come into his
hands — but Sir Harry himself considered
this doubtful — for there was a cousin of his
own who longed for the broad acres, and spent
much of his time at Dulling Court, which was
the name of Mr. Ealph Hareleigh's seat.
2i8 Forewarned^ Forearmed,
"^!N'oone,' Sir Harry declared, 'should
ever be able to say he sat watching for
dead men's shoes ; ' and so he spent all
his time abroad — visiting picture galleries
and studios, and mixing much among artists
and patrons and lovers of art.
'^ It seemed to me in those days that he
was wasting his existence, and that a man of
his rank and abilities ought to have remained
more in his own country, and associated
more with those of his own standing in
society — but whenever I ventured to hint
this to him, he only answered that —
" ' England had been a cruel stepdame to
him, and that of his own free-will he would
never spend a day in his native country
^^ He had a villa near Florence, where he
resided when he was not wandering over
the earth ; and there I spent many happy
weeks in his society — before returning, as it
was needful and expedient for me to do, to
Forewarned^ Forearmed. 219
^' "We had been separated for some years
— during the whole of which time we cor-
responded regularly, when one night I
dreamt a dream which is as vivid to me
now as it was a quarter of a century ago.
'^ I know I was well in health at the time
— that I was undisturbed in my mind —
that especially my thoughts had not been
straying after Sir Harry Hareleigh. I had
heard from him about a month previously, and
he said in his letter that he purposed winter-
ing in Yienna, where it would be a great plea-
sure if I could join him. I had replied that
I could not join him at Tienna, but that it
was not impossible we might meet the fol-
lowing spring if he felt disposed to spend a
couple of months with me in Spain, a
country which I then desired to visit.
'^ I was, therefore, not expecting to see
him for half a year, at all events — and had
certainly no thought of his arrival in Eng-
land, and yet when I went to bed on the night
in question, this was what happened to me.
2 20 Forewarned^ Forearmed,
'' I dreamt that towards the close of an
autumn day I was sitting reading by the
window of my library — you remember how
my house is situated at the corner of two
streets, and that there is a slight hill from
the town up to it — you may recollect, also,
perhaps, that the windows of my library
face on this ascent, while the hall door opens
into King Charles Street. Well, I was sit-
ting reading as I have said, with the light
growing dimmer and dimmer, and the print-
ed characters getting more and more indis-
tinct, when all at once my attention was
aroused by the appearance of a hackney
coach driven furiously up Martyr Hill.
'^ The man was flogging his horses un-
mercifully, and they cantered up the ascent
at a wonderful pace. I rose and watched
the vehicle turn the comer of King Charles
Street, when of course it disappeared from
my observation. I remained, however,
standing at the window looking out on the
gathering twilight, and but little curious
Forewar7ied^ Forearmed, 221
concerning a loud double knock which re-
sounded through the house. Next moment,
however, the library door opened, and in
walked Sir Harry Hareleigh.
'^ ^ I want you to do me a favour, Dwarris,'
were almost his first words. ' Can you —
will you — come with me on a journey?
Your man will just have time to pack a
few clothes up for you, and then we shall
be able to catch the coach that leaves ^ The
Maypole ' at seven. I have this moment
arrived from Italy, and will explain every-
thing as we go along. Can you give me
a crust of bread and a glass of wine ? '
^' I rang the bell and ordered in refresh-
ments. While he was hastily swallowing
his food. Sir Harry told me that Ralph Hare-
leigh was dead and had left him every acre
of land he owned and every guinea of
money he possessed. ' He heard,' it appears,
added Sir Harry, ^ that my cousin George
had raised large sums of money on the
strength of certainly being his heir, so he
2 22 Forewarned^ Forearmed,
<}ut him out and left the whole to me, sad-
dled with only one condition, namely, that I
should marry within six months from the
date of his death.'
'^ ^ And when do the six months expire ? '
''- ' There's the pull ! ' he answered. ^ By
some accident my lawyer's first letter never
reached me ; and if by good fortune it had
not occurred to him to send one of his clerks
with a second epistle, I should have been
done out of my inheritance. There is only
a bare month left for me to make all my ar-
^^ ' And where are you going now ? ' I
'^ ^ To Dulling Court,' he returned, ^ and
we have not a moment to lose if we are to
catch the mail.'
" Those were the days in which gentlemen
travelled with their pistols ready for use,
and you may be sure I did not forget mine.
My valise was carried out to the hackney
Forewarned^ Forearmed, 2 2^
carriage ; Sir Harry and I stepped in to the
vehicle, and before I had time to wonder at
my friend's sudden appearance, we were at
the ^Maypole/ and taking our places as in-
side passengers to Warweald, from whence
our route lay across country to Dulling.
^'When we had settled ourselves com-
fortably, put on our travelling-caps, and
buttoned our great coats up to our throats,
I looked out to see whether any other pas-
sengers were coming.
" As I did so, my eye fell on a man who
stood back a little from the crowd that al-
ways surrounds a coach at starting time,
and there was something about him which
riveted my attention, though I could not
have told why.
'' He was an evil-looking man, dressed in
decent but very common clothes, and he
stood leaning up against the wall of the
' Maypole,' and, as it chanced, directly under
the light of an oil-lamp.
" It was this circumstance which enabled
224 Forewarned^ Forearmed,
me to get so good a view of his face, of his
black hair and reddish whiskers, of his rest-
less brown eyes, and dark complexion.
^^ The contrast between his complexion
and his whiskers I remember struck me
forcibly, as did also a certain discrepancy
between his dress and his appearance.
" He did not stand exactly as a man of
his apparent class would stand, and I noticed
that he bit his nails nervously, a luxury I
never observed an ordinary working man
'•'- Further, he stared not at what was go-
ing on, but persistently at the coach window
until he discovered my scrutiny, when he
turned on his heel and walked away down
" Somehow I seemed to breathe more
freely when once he was gone ; but as the
coach soon started I forgot all about him,
imtil two or three stages after, happening to
get out of the coach for a glass of brandy, I
beheld the same man standing at a little
distance and watching the coach as before.
'^ My first impulse was to go up and speak
to him, but a moment's reflection showed
me that 1 should only place myself in a
ridiculous position by doing so. No doubt
the man was merely a passenger like our-
selves, and if he chose to lean up against
the wall of the inn while the horses were
being changed, it was clearly no business of
" At the next stage, however, when I
looked out for him he was nowhere to be
seen, and I thought no more of the matter
till on arriving at Warweald I chanced to
put my head out of the window furthest
from the inn, when by the light of one of
the coach lamps I saw my gentleman drop
down from the roof and walk away into the
darkness. We went into the inn parlour
whilst post horses were put to, and then I
told Sir Harry what I had witnessed.
^^ ^Yery likely a Bow Street runner,' he
said, ^keeping some poor wretch well in
sight. I should not wonder if the old
VOL. III. Q
226 Forewarned^ Forearmed,
gentleman who snored so persistently for
the last twenty miles, be a hardened crimi-
nal on whom your friend will clap handcuffs,
the moment he gets the warrant to arrest
^'The explanation seemed so reasonable
that I marvelled it had not occurred to me
before, and then I suppose I went off into
deeper sleep, for I have only a vague recollec-
tion of dreaming afterwards, how we travel-
led miles and miles in a post chaise, how
we ploughed through heavy country lanes,
how we passed through dark plantations, and
how we stopped at last in front of an old-
fashioned way-side house.
" It was a fine night when we arrived
there, but the wind was high and drifted
black clouds over the moon's face. We
alighted at this point and I remember how
the place was engraved on my memory.
•'It was an old inn, with a large deep
door- way, two high gables, and small latticed
windows. There were tall trees in front of
Forewarned^ Forearmed. 227
it, and from one of these the sign ^A Bleed-
ing Heart, ^ depended, rocking moanfully to
and fro in the breeze. There were only a
few leaves left on the branches, but the wind
caught up those which lay scattered on the
ground, and whirled them through the air.
Xot a soul appeared as our chaise drove up
to the door. The postilion, however, ap-
plied the butt end of his whip with such
vigour to the door that a head was soon
thrust from one of the windows, and a gruff
voice demanded, ' what the devil we wanted.'
'^ Just as he was about to answer, moved
by some sudden impulse, I turned suddenly
round and beheld stealing away in the
shadow, my friend with the dark com-
plexion and the red whiskers.
" At this juncture I awoke — always at
this juncture I awoke, for I dreamt the
same dream over and over again, till I really
grew afraid of going to bed at night.
"I used to wake up bathed in perspi-
ration with a horror on me such as I have
228 Forewarned^ Forearmed,
never felt in my waking moments. I could
not get the man's face out of my mind —
waking I was constantly thinking of it,
sleeping I reproduced it in my dreams —
and at length I became so nervous that I
had determined to seek relief either in
medical advice or change of scene — when
one evening in the late autumn as I sat.
reading in my library — the identical coach
I had beheld in my dream drove up Martyr
Hill, and next moment Sir Harry and I
" Though I had the dream in my mind all
the while, something withheld me from
mentioning it to him. We had always
laughed at warnings and such things as old
woman's tales, and so I let him talk on just
as he had talked to me in my dream, and he
ate and drank, and we went down together to
the Maypole and took our seats in the coach.
^^ You may be sure I looked well up the
street, and down the street, to see if there
were any sign of my friend with the whis-
kers, but not a trace of him could I discern.
Somewhat relieved by this I leaned back in
my comer, and really in the interest of
seeing and talking to my old companion
again, I forgot all about my dream, until
the arrival of another passenger caused me
to shift my position a little, when I glanced
out again, and there standing under the
lamp — with his restless brown eyes, his
dark complexion and his red whiskers —
stood the person whom I had never before
seen in the flesh, biting his nails indus-
" ' Just look out for a moment Hareleigh,'
I said drawing back from the window,
'- there is a man standing under the lamp I
want you to notice.'
'^ ' I see no man,' answered Sir Harry, and
when I looked out again neither did I.
'' As in my dream, however, I had beheld
the stranger at different stages of our
journey, so I beheld him at different stages
with my waking eyes.
230 Forewarned^ Forearmed,
^'Standing at the hotel at Warweald, I
spoke seriously to my companion concerning
the mysterious passenger, when to my
amazement he repeated the same words I
had heard in my di*eam.
'^ '^Now, Hareleigh,' I said, ^this is get-
ting past a joke. You know I am not
superstitious, or given to take fancies,
and yet I tell you I have had a warning
about that man and I feel confident he
means mischief,' and then I told Sir Harry
my dream, and described to him the inn
upon our arrival at which I had invariably
^' ' There is no such inn anywhere on the
road between here and Dulling,' he answered
after a moment's silence, and then he turned
towards the fire again and knit his brow,
and there ensued a disagreeable pause.
" * If I have offended you,' T remarked at
'^ * My dear friend,' he replied in an
earnest voice, ' I am not offended, I am only
Forewarned^ Forearmed, 23 1
alarmed. When I left the continent I
hoped that I had put the sea between my-
self and my enemy ; but what you say
makes me fear that I am being dogged to
my death. I have narrowly escaped assas-
sination twice within the last three months,
and I know every movement of mine has
been watched, that there have been spies
upon me. Even on board the vessel, by
which I returned to England I was nearly
pitched overboard ; at the time I regarded it
as an accident, but if your dream be true,
that was, as this is, the result of a pre-
'' ^ Then let us remain here for the night,'
" ' Impossible,' he answered. ' I must
reach Dulling before to-morrow morning, or
otherwise the only woman I ever wanted to
marry or ever shall marry will have dropped
out of my life a second time.'
'-'- 'And she,' I suggested.
'^ ' Is the widow of Lord Warweald, and
232 Forezvarned^ Forearmed.
she leaves for India to-morrow with her
brother the Honourable John Moffat.'
" ' Then,' said I, '- you can have no diffi-
culty in fulfilling the conditions of Mr.
Ealph Hareleigh's will."
^* '- !N'ot if she agree to marry me,' he
'' At that moment the chaise was an-
nounced, and we took our places in it.
'' Over the country roads, along lonely
lanes, we drove almost in silence.
'^ Somehow Sir Harry's statement and the
memory of my own dream made me feel
anxious and nervous. Who could this
unknown enemy be ? had my friend played
fast and loose with some lovely Italian, and
was this her nearest of kin dogging him to
his death ?
^^ Most certainly the man who stood under
the lamp at Callersfield had no foreign blood
in his veins ; spite of his complexion, he was
English, in figure, habit, and appearance.
'' Could there be any dark secret in Sir
Forewarned^ Forearmed. 233
Harry's life? I then asked myself. His
reluctance to visit England, his reserve
about the earlier part of his existence,
almost inclined me to this belief; and- 1 was
just about settling in my own mind what
this secret might probably be when the
postilion suddenly pulled up, and after an
examination of his horses' feet, informed us
that one of them had cast a shoe, and that it
was impossible the creature could travel the
nine miles which still intervened between
us and the next stage.
" ' There is an inn, however,' added the
boy, ' about a mile from here on the road to
Eindon ; and if you could make shift to stop
there for the night, I will undertake to have
you at Dulling Court by nine o'clock in the
" Hearing this, I looked in the moonlight at
my friend, and Sir Harry looked hard at me.
'^ ^ It is to happen so,' he said, and fling-
ing himself back in the chaise, fell into a fit
of moody musing.
234 Forewarned^ Forearmed.
"Meanwhile, as the horses proceeded
slowly along, I looked out of the window,
and once I could have sworn I saw the
shadow of a man flung across the road.
" When I opened the door, however, and
jumped out, I could see nothing except the
dark trees almost meeting overhead, and the
denser undergrowth lying to right and left.
" It was a fine night when we arrived at
our destination, just such a night as I had
dreamed was to come — moonlight, but with
heavy black clouds drifting across the sky.
"There was the inn, there swung the
sign, the dead leaves swirled about us as we
stood waiting while the post boy hammered
" It all came about as I had dreamt, save
that I did not see waking as I had done in
my sleep a stealing figure creeping away in
the shadow of the house.
" I saw the figure afterwards, but not
"We ate in the house, but we did not
Forewarned^ Forearmed, 235
drink — we made a feint of doing so ; but we
really poured away the liquor upon the hot
ashes that lay underneath the hastily re-
plenished fire, though I believe this caution
to have been unnecessary.
^' We selected our bed chambers, Sir
Harry choosing one which looked out on
what our host called the Wilderness, and I
selecting another that commanded a view of
'^ There were no locks or bolts to the
doors, but we determined to pull up such
furniture as the rooms afforded, and erect
barricades for our protection.
'^ I wanted to remain in the same apart-
ment with my friend, but he would not hear
of such an arrangement.
'' ^ We shall only delay the end,' he said
stubbornly, in answer to my entreaties,
' and I have an ounce of lead ready for any
one who tries to meddle with me.' So we
bade each other good night, and separated.
" I had not the slightest intention of
236 Foreii'arned^ Forearmed.
going to bed, so I sat and read my favourite
poet till, overpowered by fatigue, I dropped
asleep in my chair.
'' When I awoke it was with a start ; the
candle had burnt out, and the moonlight
was sti-eaming through the white blind into
'-^ Was it fancy, or did I hear some one
actually try my door ? I held my breath,
and then I knew it was no fancy, for the
latch snicked in the lock, then stealthy foot-
steps crept along the passage and down the
^^ In a moment my resolution was taken.
Opening my window, I crept on to the sill,
and closing the casement after me, dropped
into the garden.
'^ Keeping close against the wall, I crept
to the corner of the house, where I concealed
myself behind an arhor vita.
'^A minute afterwards the man I was
watching for came round the opposite comer,
and stood for a second looking at the win-
Forewarned^ Forear^ned. 237
dow of Sir Harry's room. There was a pear
tree trained against the wall on this side of
the house, and up it he climbed with more
agility than I should have expected fi'om his
'' I had my pistol in my hand, and felt
inclined to wing him while he was fighting
with the crazy fastening, and trying to
open the window without noise, but I re-
frained. I wanted to see the play out ; I
desired to see his game, and so the moment
he was in the room I climbed the pear tree
also, and raising my eyes just above the sill,
and lifting the blind about an inch, looked
"• Like myself, Hareleigh had not un-
dressed, but he lay stretched on the bed
with his right hand under his head, and his
left flung across his body.
'' He was fast asleep, his pistols lay on a
chair beside him, and I could see he had so
far followed my advice as to have dragged
an ancient secretaii-e across the door.
238 Forewarned^ Forearmed.
'^ By the moonliglit I got a 'good view
now of the individual who had for so long
a time troubled my dreams. As he stealthily
moved the pistols he turned his profile a little
towards the window, and then I knew what
I already suspected, viz., that the man who
had travelled with us from Callersfield was
identical with the man who now stood beside
Sir Harry meaning to murder him.
'^ It was the dream in that hour which
seemed the reality, and the reality the
^^For an instant he stooped over my
friend, and then I saw him raise his hand
to strike, but the same moment I took de-
liberate aim, and before the blow could fall,
fired and shot him in the right shoulder.
^' There was a shriek and an imprecation,
a rush to the window, where we met, he
trying to get out, I striving to get in.
^' I grappled with him, but having no
secure foothold the impetus of his body was
too much for me, and we both fell to the
Forewarned^ Forearmed, 239
ground together. The force of the fall
stunned me, I suppose, for I remember
nothing of what followed till I found my-
self lying on a sofa in the inn, with Hare-
leigh sitting beside me.
" ' Don't talk ! for God's sake don't talk 1'
he entreated. ^ We shall be out of this in
five minutes' time if you think you can bear
the shaking. I have made the landlord lend
us another horse, and we shall be at Dulling
in two hours' time. There you shall tell
me all about it.'
" But there I never told him all about it.
Before we reached our next stage I was far
too ill to travel further, and for weeks I
lay between life and death at the Green
Man and Still, Aldney.
" When I was strong enough to sit up
with him, Harry and Lady Hareleigh came
over from Dulling to see me, but it was
months before I could bear to speak of the
events of that night, and though I never
dreamed my dream again, it left its traces
on me for life.
240 Forewarned^ Forearmed.
^' Till the day of his death, however, Sir
Harry always regarded me as his preserver,
and the warmest welcome to Dulling Court
was given by his wife to. one whom she
honoured by calling her dearest friend.
'^"When Sir Harry died, he left me joint
guardian with Lady Hareleigh of his
children. So carefully worded a will, I
never read — in the event of the death of his
children without issue, he bequeathed
Dulling Court to various charitable institu-
^^ ^ A most singular disposition of his
property,' I remarked to his lawyer.
" 'Depend upon it, my dear sir, he had
his reasons,' that indi^^dual replied.
" ' And those ' I suggested.
'^ ' I must regard as strictly private and
" The most singular part of my narrative
has yet to come," Mr. Dwarris continued
after a pause.
'^Many years after Sir Harry's death, it
Forwarned^ Forearmed. 241
chanced I arrived at a Mend's house on th^
evening before the nomination day of an
election, which it was expected would be
' ^ ^ Mr. Blair's wealth of course gives him
a great advantage,' sighed my hostess, ' and
we all do dislike him so cordially — I would
give anything to see him lose.'
"Accustomed to such thoroughly feminine
and logical sentiments, I attached little im-
portance to the lady's remarks, and with
only a very slight feeling of interest in the
matter, next morning accompanied my
friend to the county town where the nomi-
nation was to take place.
"We were rather late in starting, and
before our arrival Mr. Blair had commenced
his harangue to the crowd.
" He was talking loudly and gesticulating
violently with his left hand when I first
caught sight of him. He was telling the
free and independent electors that they knew
who he was, what he was, and why he
VOL. III. E
242 Forewarned^ Forearmed.
supported such and such a political
'^ At intervals he was interrupted by
^ cheers and hisses/ but at the end of one of
his most brilliant perorations, I who had
been elbowing my way through the crowd,
shouted out at the top of my voice —
^* * How about the man you tried to
murder at ^ The Bleeding Heart ? ' '
*^ For a moment there was a dead silence,
then the mob took up my cry —
" ^ How about the man you tried to
murder at ^ The Bleeding Heart ? ' '
^^ I saw him look round as if a ghost had
spoken, then he fell suddenly back, and his
friends carried him off the platform.
*^ My hostess had her wish, for his oppo-
nent walked over the course, and a few
weeks afterwards I read in the papers —
^^^ Died— At Hollingford Hall, in his
forty-sixth year, George Hareleigh Blair,
Esq., nephew of the late Ealph Hareleigh,
Esq., of Dulling Court.'
Forewafned^ Forearmed. 243
^' ' He married a Miss Blair, I presume/
I said to my host.
'^ Yes, for her money,' was the reply, ^ she
had two hundred thousand pounds.'
^^ ^ So the mystery of the ' Bleeding Heart '
was cleared up at last ; but on this side the
grave I do not expect to understand how I
chanced to dream of a man I had never seen
— of places I had never visited — of events of
which I was not then cognizant — of conver-
sations which had then still to take place."
Many a year ago, before chloroform was
thought of, there lived in an old, rambling
house, in Gerard Street, Soho, a young
Irishman called Hertford O'Donnell.
After Hertford O'Donnell he was entitled
to write M.E.C.S., for he had studied hard
to gain this distinction, and the older sur-
geons at Guy's (his hospital) considered him,
in their secret hearts, one of the most rising
operators of the day.
Having said chloroform was unknown at
the time this story opens, it will strike my
* Beprinted bj the kind permission of the Pro-
prietors of " London Society."
248 Hertford G^DonnelPs Warning.
readers that, if Hertford O'Donnell were a
rising and successful operator in those days,
of necessity he combined within himself a
larger number of striking qualities than are
by any means necessary to form a successful
operator in these.
There was more than mere hand skill,
more than even thorough knowledge of his
profession, needful for the man who, dealing
with conscious subjects, essayed to rid them
of some of the diseases to which flesh is heir.
There was greater courage required in the
manipulator of old than is at present alto-
gether essential. Then, as now, a thorough
mastery of his instruments — a steady hand
— a keen eye — a quick dexterity were indis-
pensable to a good operator ; but, added to
all these things, there formerly required a
pulse which knew no quickening — a mental
strength which never faltered — a ready power
of adaptation in unexpected circumstances —
fertility of resource in difficult cases, and a
rave front imder all emergencies.
Hertford O^ DonnelP s Warfiing. 249
, If I refrain from adding that a hard as
well as a courageous heart was an important
item in the programme, it is only out of de-
ference to general opinion, which amongst
other delusions, clings to the belief that
courage and hardness are antagonistic
Hertford O'Donnell, however, was hard
as steel. He understood his work, and he
did it thoroughly ; but he cared no more for
quivering nerves and contracting muscles,
for screams of agoDy, for faces white with
pain, and teeih clenched in the extremity of
anguish, than he did for the stony counte-
nances of the dead which sometimes in the
dissecting-room appalled younger and less
He had no sentiment, and he had no
sympathy. The human body was to him an
ingenious piece of mechanism, which it was
at once a pleasure and a profit to understand.
Precisely as Brunei loved the Thames Tun-
nel, or any other singular engineering feat,
250 Hertford C DoimelP s Warning,
so O'Donnell loved a patient on whom he
operated successfully, more especially if the
ailment possessed by the patient were of a
rare and difficult character.
And for this reason he was much liked
by all who came under his hands, for patients
are apt to mistake a surgeon's interest in
their cases for interest in themselves ; and it
was gratifying to John Dicks, plasterer, and
Timothy Eegan, labourer, to be the happy
possessors of remarkable diseases, which
produced a cordial understanding between
themselves and the handsome Irishman.
If he were hard and cool at the moment
of hewing them to pieces, that was all for-
gotten, or remembered only as a virtue,
when, after being discharged from hospital
like soldiers who have served in a severe
campaign, they met Mr. O'Donnell in the
street, and were accosted by that rising in-
dividual, just as though he considered him-
He had a royal memory, this stranger in
Hertford G^ DomielP s Warnmg. 251
a strange land, both for faces and cases ;
and like the rest of his countrymen he never
felt it beneath his dignity to talk cordially
to corduroy and fustian.
In London, as at Calgillan, he never held
back his tongue from speaking a cheery or
a kindly word. His manners were pliable
enough if his heart were not ; and the por-
ters, and the patients, and the nurses, and
the students at Guy's all were pleased to
see Hertford O'Donnell.
Eain, hail, sunshine, it was all the same ;
there was a life and a brightness about the
man which communicated itself to those
with whom he came in contact. Let the mud
in the streets be a foot deep, or the Lon-
don fog thick as pea-soup, Mr. O'Donnell
never lost his temper, never muttered a
surly reply to the gate-keeper's salutation,
but spoke out blithely and cheerfully to his
pupils and his patients, to the sick and to
the well, to those below and to those abova
2^2 Hertford O' Don7ielP s Warning,
And yet, spite of all these good qualities
— spite of his handsome face, his fine figure,
his easy address, and his unquestionable
skill as an operator, the dons, who acknow-
ledged his talent, shook their heads gravely
when two or three of them in private and
solemn conclave talked confidentially of their
If there were many things in his favour,
there were more in his disfavour. He was
Irish — not merely by the accident of birth,
which might have been forgiven, since a
man cannot be held accountable for such
caprices of Nature, but by every other acci-
dent and design which is objectionable to
the orthodox and respectable and represen-
tative English mind.
In speech, appearance, manner, habits,
modes of expression, habits of life, Hertford
O'Donnell was Irish. To the core of his heart
he loved his native land which he, never-
theless, declared he never meant to revisit ;
and amongst the English he moved to all
Hertford G* DonnelP s Warning, 253
intents and purposes a foreigner, who was
resolved, so said the great prophets at Guy's,
to go to destruction as fast as he could, and
let no man hinder him.
^' He means to go the whole length of his-
tether," observed one of the ancient wise-
acres to another ; which speech implied a
conviction that Hertford O'Donnell, having
sold himself to the Evil One, had deter-
mined to dive the full length of his rope
into wickedness before being pulled to the
shore where even wickedness is negative
— where there are no mad carouses, no wild,
sinful excitement, nothing but impotent
wailing and useless gnashing of teeth.
A reckless, graceless, clever, wicked devil
— going to his natural home as fast as in Lon-
don a man can possibly progress thither : this
was the opinion his superiors held of the
man who lived all alone with a housekeeper
and her husband (who acted as butler) in
his big house near Soho.
Gerard Street was not then an utterly
254 Hertford 0^ DonnelP s Warning,
shady and forgotten locality : carriage
patients found their way to the rising
surgeon — some great personages thought
it not beneath them to fee an indivi-
dual whose consulting rooms were situated
on what was even then the wrong side of
Eegent Street. He was making money, and
he was spending it : he was over head and
ears in debt — useless, vulgar debt — sense-
lessly contracted, never bravely faced. He
had lived at an awful pace ever since he
came to London, at a pace which only a
man who hopes and expects to die young
can ever travel.
Life, what good was it ? death, was he a
child, or a woman, or a coward, to be afraid of
death's " afterwards?" God knew all about
the trifle which had upset his coach better
than the dons at Guy's; and he did not dread
facing his Maker, and giving an account to
Him even of the disreputable existence he
had led since he came to London.
Hertford O'Donnell knew the world pretty
Hertford O* DonnelP s Warning. 255
•well, and the ways thereof were to him as
roads often traversed ; therefore, when he
said that at the day of judgment he felt
certain he should come off better than many
of those who censured him, it may be as-
sumed that, although his views of post-
mortem punishment were vague, unsatis-
factory, and infidel, still his information as
to the peccadilloes of his neighbours was
such as consoled himself.
And yet, living all alone in the old house
near Soho Square, grave thoughts would
intrude frequently into the surgeon's mind
— thoughts which were, so to say, italicized
by peremptory letters, and still more pe-
remptory visits from people who wanted
Although he had many acquaintances he
had no single friend, and accordingly these
thoughts were received and brooded over in
solitude, in those hours when, after return-
ing from dinner or supper, or congenial
carouse, he sat in his dreary rooms smoking
256 Hertford O^ DonnelP s Warning,
his pipe and considering means and ways,.
chances and certainties.
In good truth he had started in London
with some vague idea that as his life in it
would not be of long continuance, the pace
at which he elected to travel could be of
little consequence ; but the years since his
first entry into the metropolis were now piled
one on the top of another, his youth was be-
hind him, his chances of longevity, spite of
the way he had striven to injure his consti-
tution, quite as good as ever. He had come
to that time in existence, to that narrow
strip of tableland whence the ascent of youth
and the descent of age are equally discern-
ible — when, simply because he has lived for
so many years, it strikes a man as possible
he may have to live for just as many more,
with the ability for hard work gone, with
the boon companions scattered abroad, with
the capacity for enjoying convivial meetings
a mere memory, with small means perhaps,
with no bright hopes, with the pomp and
Hertford G^ DonnelP s Warning. 257
the equipage, and the fairy carriages, and
the glamour which youth flings over earthly
objects faded away like the pageant of .yes-
terday, while the dreary ceremony of living
has to be gone through to-day and to-mor-
row and the morrow after, as though the
gay cavalcade and the martial music, and
the glittering helmets and the prancing
steeds were still accompanying the wayfarer
to his journey's end.
Ah ! my friends, there comes a moment
when we must all leave the coach, with its
four bright bays, its pleasant outside freight,
its cheery company, its guard who blows
the horn so merrily through villages and
along lonely country roads.
Long before we reach that final stage,
where the black business claims us for its
own especial property, we have to bid good-
bye to all easy, thoughtless journeying, and
betake ourselves with what zest we will, to
traversing the common of Eeality. There
is no royal road across it that ever I heard
VOL. III. s
258 Hertford 0^ Do7inelP s Warning,
of. From the king on his throne to the
labourer who vaguely imagines what manner
of being a king is, we have all to tramp
across that desert at one period of our lives,
at all events ; and that period usually is
when, as I have said, a man starts to find the
hopes, and the strength, and the buoyancy
of youth left behind, while years and years
of coming life lie stretching out before him.
The coach he has travelled by drops him
here. There is no appeal, there is no help ;
therefore let him take off his hat and wish
the new passengers good speed, without
either envy or repining.
Behold, he has had his turn, and let who-
soever will, mount on the box-seat of life
again, and tip the coachman and handle the
ribbons, he shall take that pleasant journey
no more — no more for ever.
Even supposing a man's spring time to
have been a cold and uugenial one, with
bitter easterly winds and nipping frosts,
biting the buds and retarding the blossoms,
Hertford G^DonneWs Warning. 259
still it was spring for all that — spring with
the young green leaves sprouting eagerly,
with the flowers unfolding tenderly, with the
songs of birds and the rush of waters, with
the summer before and the autumn afar off,
and winter remote as death and eternity;
but whea once the trees have donned their
summer foliage, when the pure white blos-
soms have disappeared, and a gorgeous red
and orange and purple blaze of many-
coloured flowers fills the gardens, then' if
there come a wet, dreary day, the idea of
autumn and winter is not so difficult to
realise. When once twelve o'clock is
reached, the evening and night become facts,
not possibilities ; and it was of the after-
noon, and the evqping and the night, Hert-
ford O'Donnell sat thinking on the Christ-
mas Eve when I crave permission to intro-
duce him to my readers.
A good-looking man ladies considered
him. A tall, dark-complexioned, black-
haired, straight-limbed, deeply, divinely
26o Hertford O^ DonnelP s Warning,
blue-eyed fellow, witli a soft voice, with a
pleasant brogue, who had ridden like a
Centaur over the loose stone walls in Con-
nemara, who had danced all night at the
Dublin balls, who had walked over the
Bennebeola mountains, gun in hand, day
after day without weariness, who had fished
in every one of the hundred lakes you can
behold from the top of that mountain near
the Eecess Hotel, who had. led a mad, wild
life in Trinity College, and a wilder, per-
haps, while ^ studying for a doctor ' — as the
Irish phrase goes — in Dublin, and who, aftei'
the death of his eldest brother left him free
to return to Calgillan and pursue the usual
utterly useless, utterly purposeless, utterly
pleasant life of an Irish gentleman possessed
of health, birth, and expectations, suddenly
kicked over the paternal traces, bade adieu
to Calgillan Castle and the blandishments
of a certain beautiful Miss Clifden, beloved
of his mother, and laid out to be his wife,
walked down the avenue without even so
Hertford 0^ DoimelP s Warning. 261
mucii company as a gossoon to cany his car-
pet bag, shook the dust from his feet at the
lodge-gates, and took his seat on the coach,
never once looking back at Calgillan, where
his favourite mare was standing in the
stable, his greyhounds chasing one another
round the home paddock, his gun at half-
cock in his dressing-room, and his fishing-
tackle all in order and ready for use.
He had not kissed his mother or asked
for his father's blessing ; he left Miss Clif-
den arrayed in her bran-new riding-habit
without a word of affection or regret ; he
had spoken no syllable of farewell to any
servant about the place ; only when the old
woman at the lodge bade him good morning
and God-blessed his handsome face, he
recommended her bitterly to '4ook well at
it, for she woiild never see it more."
Twelve years and a half had passed since
then without either Nancy Blake or any
other one of the Calgillan people having set
'eyes on Master Hertford's handsome face.
262 Hertford G^ DonnclP s Warning,
He had kept his vow made to himself; he had
not written home ; he had not been indebted
to mother or father for even a tenpenny -piece
during the whole of that time ; he had lived
without friends, and he had lived without
God — so far as God ever lets a man live with-
out him — and his own private conviction
was that he could get on ver}^ well without
either. One thing only he felt to be needful
— money, money to keep him when the evil
days of sickness, or age, or loss of practice
came upon him. Though a spendthrift, he
was not a simpleton. Around him he saw
men who, having started with fairer prospects
than his own, were nevertheless reduced to
indigence ; and he knew that what had
happened to others might happen to him-
An unlucky cut, slipping on a bit of
orange-peel in the street, the merest accident
imaginable, is sufficient to change opulence
to beggary in the life's programme of an
individual whose income depends on eye, on^
Hertford O'' Donne IP s Warning. 263
nerve, on hand ; and besides the conscious-
ness of this fact, Hertford O'Donnell knew
that beyond a certain point in his profession
progress was not easy.
It did not depend quite on the strength of
his own bow or shield whether he counted
his earnings by hundreds or thousands. Work
may achieve competence; but mere work
cannot, in a profession at all events, compass
He looked around him, and he perceived
that the majority of great men — great and
wealthy — had been indebted for their eleva-
tion more to the accidents of birth, patronage,
connection, or marriage, than to personal
Personal ability, no doubt, they possessed ;
but then, little Jones, who lived in Frith
Street, and who could barely keep himself
and his wife and family, had ability,
too, only he lacked the concomitants of
He wanted something or some one to puff
264' Hertford G^ DonneW s Warning.
him into notoriety — a brother at court — a
lord's leg to mend — a rich wife to give him
prestige into society ; and, lacking this some-
thing or some one, he had grown grey-haired
and faint-hearted in the service of that world
which utterly despises its most obsequious
" Clatter along the streets with a pair of
hired horses, snub the middle classes, and
drive over the commonalty — that is the way
to compass wealth and popularity in Eng-
land," said Hertford O'Donnell, bitterly;
and, as the man desired wealth and popu-
larity, he sat before his fire, with a foot
on each hob, and a short pipe in his mouth,
considering how he might best obtain the
means to clatter along the streets in his car-
riage, and splash plebeians with mud from
his wheels like the best.
In Dublin he could, by reason of his name
and connection, have done well ; but then
he was not in Dublin, neither did he want
to be. The bitterest memories of his life
Hertford 0^ DonnelP s Warning. 265
were inseparable from the name of the Green
Island, and he had no desire to return to it.
Besides, in Dublin, heiresses are not quite
so plentiful as in London ; and an heiress
Hertford O'Donnell had decided would do
more for him than years of steady work.
A rich wife could clear him of debt, in-
troduce him to fashionable practice, afford
him that measure of social respectability
which a medical bachelor invariably lacks,
deliver him from the loneliness of Gerard
Street, and the domination of Mr. and Mrs.
To most men, deliberately bartering away
their independence for money seems so pro-
saic a business that they strive to gloss it
over even to themselves, and to assign every
reason for their choice, save that which is
really the influencing one.
Not so, however, with Hertford O'Donnell.
He sat beside the fire scoffing over his pro-
posed bargain — thinking of the lady's age —
her money-bags — her desirable house in
266 Hertford O'' Don7ielP s Warning,
town — her seat in the country — her snobbish-
ness — her folly.
^' It would be a fitting ending," he
sneered ; " and why I did not settle the
matter to-night passes my comprehension.
I am not a coward, to be frightened with old
women's tales ; and yet I must have turned
white. I felt I did, and she asked me
whether I was ill. And then to think of my
being such an idiot as to ask her if she had
heard anything like a cry, as though she
would be likely to hear that — she, with her
^oov parvenu blood, which, I often imagine,
must have been mixed with some of her
father's pickling vinegar. What the deuce
could I have been dreaming about? I
wonder what it really was ; " and Hertford
O'Donnell pushed his hair back from his
forehead, and took another draught from the
too familiar tumbler, which was placed con-
yeniently on the chimneypiece.
" After expressly making up my mind
to propose, too ! " he mentally continued..
Hertford O'DonneWs Warning, 267
^^ Could it have been conscience— that myth,
which somebody, who knew nothing of the
matter, said, ^ makes cowards of us all ? ' I
don't believe in conscience ; and even if there
be such a thing capable of being developed
by sentiment and cultivation, why should it
trouble me ? I have no intention of wrong-
ing Miss Janet Price Ingot — not the least.
Honestly and fairly I shall marry her ;
honestly and faii4y I shall act by her. An
old wife is not exactly an ornamental article
of furniture in a man's house ; and I do not
know that the fact of her being well gilded
makes her look any more ornamental. But
she shall have no cause for complaint ; and
I will go and dine with her to-morrow, and
settle the matter."
Having arrived at which resolution, Mr.
O'Donnell arose, kicked down the fii'e —
burning hollow — with the heel of his boot,
knocked the ashes out of his pipe, emptied
his tumbler, and bethought him it was time
to go to bed. He was not in the habit of
^68 Hertford G^ DonnelP s Warning,
taking his rest so early as quarter to twelve
o'clock ; but he felt unusually weary — tired
mentally and bodily — and lonely beyond all
power of expression.
'' The fail' Janet would be better than this,"
he said, half aloud ; and then with a start
and a shiver, and a blanched face, he turned
sharply round, whilst a low, sobbing, wailiug
cry echoed mournfuUv though the room. No
form of words could give an idea of the
sound. The plaintivenes of the Eolian harp
— that plaintiveness which so soon affects
and lowers the highest spirits — would have
seemed wildly gay in comparison to the sad-
ness of the cry which seemed floating in
the air. As the summer wind comes and
goes amongst the trees, so that mournful wail
came and went — came and went. It came
in a rush of sound, like a gradual crescendo
managed by a skilful musician, and it died
away like a lingering note, so that the listener
could scarcely tell the exact moment when it
faded away into silence.
Hertford G^DonnelPs Warning. 269
I say faded a^^ay, for it disappeared
as the coast line disappears in the twilight,
and there was utter stillness in the apart-
Then, for the first time, Hertford O'Don-
nell looked at his dog, and beholding the
creature crouched into a corner beside the
fireplace, called upon him to come out.
His voice sounded strange even to him-
self, and apparently the dog thought so too,
for he made no effort to obey the sum-
" Come out, sir," his master repeated, and
then the animal came crawling reluctantly
forward, with his hair on end, his eyes
almost starting from his head, trembling
violently, as the sui'geon, who caressed him,
'' So you heard it, Brian ? " he said to the
dog. '-'- And so your ears are sharper than
hers, old fellow ? It's a mighty queer thing
to think of, being favoured with a visit from
a banshee in Gerard Street; and as the lady
270 Hertford O'^DoiinelPs Warnmg,
lias travelled so far, I only wish. I knew
whether there is any sort of refreshment she
would like to take after her long journey."
He spoke loudly, and with a certain
mocking defiance, seeming to think the
phantom he addressed would reply; but
when he stopped at the end of his sentence,
no sound came through the stillness. There
was utter silence in the room — silence
broken only by the falling of the cinders on
the hearth and the breathing of his dog.
''If my visitor would tell me, "'he pro-
ceeded, " for whom this lamentation is being
made, whether for myself, or for some other
member of my illustrious family, I should
feel immensely obliged. It seems too much
honour for a poor surgeon to have such
attention paid him. Good heavens ! What
is that ? " he exclaimed, as a ring, loud and
peremptory, woke all the echoes in the
house, and brought his housekeeper in a
state of distressing dishabille, " out of her
warm bed," so she subsequently stated, to
the head of the staircase.
Hertford O^DonnelPs Warning, 271
Across the liall Hertford O'Donnell
strode, relieved at the prospect of speaking
to any living being. He took no precaution
of putting up the chain, but flung the door
wide. A dozen burglars would have proved
welcome in comparison to that ghostly in-
truder ; and, as I have said, he threw the
door open, admitting a rush of wet, cold
air, which made poor Mrs. Coles' few re-
maining teeth chatter in her head.
''Who is there ? — what do you want? "
asked the surgeon, seeing no person, and
hearing no voice. "Who is there? — why
the devil can't you speak ? "
But when even this polite exhortation
failed to elicit an answer, he passed out into
the night and looked up the street, and down
the street, to see nothing but the driving
rain and the blinking lights.
" If this goes on much longer I shall soon
think I must be either mad or drunk," he
muttered, as he re-entered the house, and
locked and bolted the door once more.
272 Hertford O^DonnelPs Warning.
^'Lord's sake ! what is the matter, sir?'^
asked Mrs. Coles, from the upper flight,
careful only to reveal the borders of her
nightcap to Mr. O'Donnell's admiring gaze.
"Is anybody killed? — have you to go out,
" It was only a runaway ring," he an-
swered, trying to reassure himself with an
explanation he did not in his heart believe.
" Runaway ! — I'd runaway them," mur-^
mured Mrs. Coles, as she retired to the con-
jugal couch, where Coles was, to quote her
own expression, " snoring like a pig through
it all." Almost immediately afterwards she-
heard her master ascend the stairs and close
" Madam will surely be too much of a
gentlewoman to intrude here," thought the
surgeon, scoffing even at his own fears ; but
when he lay down he did not put out his
light, and he made Brian leap up and crouch
on the coverlet beside him.
The man was fairly frightened, and would
Hertford 0^ Donne IPs Warning, 273
have thought it no discredit to his manhood
to acknowledge as much. He was not afraid
of death, he was not afraid of trouble, he
was not afraid of danger ; but he was afraid
of the banshee ; and as he lay with his hand
on the dog's head, he thought over all the
stories he had ever heard about this family
retainer in the . days of his youth. He had
not thought about her for years and years.
Never before had he heard her voice him-
self. When his brother died, she had not
thought it necessary to travel up to Dublin
and give him notice of the impending
catastrophe. " If she had, I would have
gone down to Calgillan, and perhaps saved
his life," considered the surgeon. ^^ I wonder
who this is for ! If for me, that will settle
my debts and my marriage. If I could be
quite certain it was either of the old people,
I would start for Ireland to-morrow." And
then vaguely his mind wandered on to think
of every banshee story he had ever heard in
his life— about the beautiful lady with the
VOL. ni. T
274 Hertford G^ DonnelP s Warning.
wreath of flowers, who sat on the rocks below
Eed Castle, in the County Antrim, lamenting
till one of the sons died for love of her ; about
the Eound Chamber at Dunluce, which was
swept clean by the banshee every night;
about the bed in a certain great house in
Ireland, which was slept in constantly,
although no human being ever passed in or
out after dark ; about that general officer
who the night before Waterloo, said to a
friend, '^ I have heard the banshee, and shall
not come off the field alive to-morrow ; break
the news gently to poor Carry ; " and who,
nevertheless, coming safe off the field, had
subsequently news about poor Carry broken
tenderly and pitifully to him ; about the lad
who, aloft in the rigging, hearing through
the night a sobbing and wailing coming over
the waters, went down to the captain and
told him he was afraid they were somehow
out of their reckoning, just in time to save
the ship, which, when morning broke, they
found but for his warning would have been
Hertford C DonnelP s Warning, 275
on the rocks. It was blowing great guns,
and the sea was all in a fret and turmoil, and
they could sometimes see in the trough of
the waves, as down a valley, the cruel black
reefs they had escaped.
On deck the captain stood speaking to the
boy who had saved them, and asking how he
knew of their danger; and when the lad
told him, the captain laughed, and said her
ladyship had been outwitted that time.
But the boy answered, with a grave shake
of his head, that the warning was either for
him or his, and that if he got safe to port
there would be bad tidings waiting for him
from home ; whereupon the captain bade
him go below, and get some brandy and lie
He got the brandy, and he lay down, but
he never rose again ; and when the storm
abated — when a great calm succeeded to the
previous tempest — there was a very solemn
funeral at sea ; and on their arrival at Liver-
pool the captain took a journey to Ireland to
276 Hertford O^DonnelPs Warning.
tell a widowed mother how her only son
died, and to bear his few effects to the poor
And Hertford O'Donnell thought again
about his own father riding full-chase across
country, and hearing, as he galloped by a
clump of plantation, something like a sob-
bing and wailing. The hounds were in full
cry ; but he still felt, as he afterwards ex-
pressed it, that there was something among
those trees he could not pass ; and so he
jumped off his horse, and hung the reins
over the branch of a fir, and beat the cover
well, but not a thing could be find in it.
Then, for the first time in his life, Miles
O'Donnell turned his horse's head from the
hunt, and, within a mile of Calgillan, met a
man running to tell him Mr. Martin's gun
had burst, and hurt him badly.
And he remembered the story also, of
how Mary O'Donnell, his great aunt, being
married to a young Englishman, heard the
banshee as she sat one evening waiting for
Hertford O^Don7ielPs Warbling. 277
Ms return ; and of how she, thinking the
bridge by which he often came home unsafe
for horse and man, went out, in a great
panic, to meet and entreat him to go round
by the main road for her sake. Sir Everard
was riding along in the moonlight, making
straight for the bridge, when he beheld a
figure dressed all in white upon it. Then
there was a crash, and the figure disap-
The lady was rescued and brought back
to the hall ; but next morning there were
two dead bodies within its walls — those of
Lady Eyreton and her still-born son.
Quicker than I write them, these memo-
ries chased one another through Hertford
O'DonnelPs brain ; and there was one more
terrible memory than any which would recur
to him, concerning an Irish nobleman who,
seated alone in his great town-house in Lon-
don, heard the banshee, and rushed out to
get rid of the phantom, which wailed in his
ear, nevertheless, as he strode down Picca.
278 Hertford G^ DonneW s Warning,
dilly. And then the surgeon remembered
how he went with a friend to the Opera,
feeling sure that there no banshee, unless
she had a box, could find admittance, until
suddenly he heard her singing up amongst
the highest part of the scenery, with a ter-
rible mournfulness, with a pathos which
made the prima donna's tenderest notes seem
harsh by comparison.
As he came out, some quarrel arose be-
tween him and a famous fire-eater, against
whom he stumbled ; and the result was that
the next afternoon there was a new Lord
' , vice Lord , killed in a duel with
Memories like these are not the most en-
livening possible ; they are apt to make a
man fanciful, and nerrous, and wakeful ; but
as time ran on, Hertford O'Donnell fell
asleep, with his candle still burning, and
Brian's cold nose pressed against his hand.
He dreamt of his mother's family — ^the
Hertfords, of Artingbury, Yorkshire, far-off
Hertford G'DonnelPs Warning. 279
relatives of Lord Hertford — so far off that
even Mrs. O'Donnell held no clue to the
He thought he was at Artingbury, fishing ;
that it was a misty summer's morning, and
the fi^h rising beautifully. In his di-eam
he hooked one after another, and the boy
who was with him threw them into the
At last there was one more difficult to
land than the others ; and the boy, in his
eagerness to watch the sport, di'ew nearer
and nearer to the brink, while the fisher,
intent on his prey, failed to notice his com
Suddenly there was a cry, a splash, and
the boy disappeared from sight.
Next instant he rose again, however, and
then, for the fii^st time, Hertford O'Donnell
saw his face.
It was one he knew well.
In a moment he plunged into the water,
and struck out for the lad. He had him by
2 8o Hertford CPDannelPs Warning,
the hair, he was turning to bring him back
to land, when the stream suddenly changed
into a wide, wild, shoreless sea, where the
billows were chasing one another with a
mad demoniac mirth.
For awhile O'Donnell kept the lad and
himself afloat. Thev were swept under the
waves, and came forth again, only to see
larger wares rushing towards them; but
through all the surgeon never loosened his
hold until a tremendous billow engulfing
them both, tore the boy from him.
With the horror of that he awoke, to hear
a voice saying quite dLstinetly.
" Go to the hospital I — go at once ! "
The surgeon started up in bed, rubbed
his eyes, and looked about him. The
candle was flickering faintly in its socket.
Brian, with his ears pricked forward, had
raised his head at his master's sudden jump.
Everything was quiet, but still those
words were ringing in his ear —
" Go to the hospital I — go at once ! "
Hertford GDonneiPs War7iing. 281
The tremendous peal of the bell over-
night, and this sentence, seemed to be
That he was wanted at Guy's — wanted
imperatively — came to O'Donnell like an
Neither sense nor reason had anything to
do with the conviction that roused him out
of bed, and made him dress as speedily as
possible, and grope his way down the
staircase, Brian following.
He opened the front door, and passed out
into the darkness. The rain was over, and
the stars were shining as he pursued his
way down Newport Market, and thence,
winding in and out in a south-east direction,
through Lincoln's Inn Fields and Old
Square to Chancery Lane, whence he pro-
ceeded to St. Paul's.
Along the deserted streets he resolutely
continued his walk. He did not know what
he was going to Guy's for. Some instinct
was urging him on, and he neither strove
282 Hertford 0' DonneW s Warning.
to combat nor control it. Only once had
the thought of turning back occurred, and
that was at the archway leading into Old
Square. There he had paused for a moment,
asking himself whether he were not gone
stark, staring mad; but Guy's seemed prefer-
able to the haunted house in Gerard Street,
and he walked resolutely on, determining to
say, if any surprise were expressed at his ap-
pearance, that he had been sent for.
Sent for ? — yea, truly ; but by whom ?
On through Cannon Street ; on over Lon-
don Bridge, where the lights flickered in the
river, and the sullen plash of the water
flowing beneath the arches, washing the
stone piers, could be heard, now the human
din was hushed and lulled to sleep. On,
thinking of many things ; of the days of his
youth ; of his dead brother ; of his father's
heavily encumbered estate; of the fortune
his mother had vowed she would leave to
some charity rather than to him, if he re-
fused to marry according to her choice ; of
Hertford O^DonnelPs Warning, 283
his wild life in London ; of the terrible cry
he had heard overnight — that terrible wail
which he could not drive away from his
memory even as he entered Guy's, and con-
fronted the porter, who said —
^^ You have just been sent for, sir; did
you meet the messenger " ?
Like one in a dream, Hertford O'Donnell
heard him ; like one in a dream, also, he
asked what was the matter.
^' Bad accident, sir; fire: balcony gave way
— unsafe — old building. Mother and child
— a son ; boy with compound fracture of
thigh. ' ' This, the j oint information of porter
and house-surgeon, mingled together, and
made a roar in Mr. O'DonnelPs ears like
the sound of the sea breaking on a shingly
Only one sentence he understood perfectly
— " Immediate amputation necessary." At
this point he grew cool ; he was the careful,
cautious, successful surgeon in a moment.
284 Hertford O' DoymelP s Warning.
'^The boy, you say?" he answered; ^4et
me see him."
The Guy's Hospital of to-day may be
different to the Guy's Hertford O'Donnell
knew so well. Eailways have, I believe,
swept away the old operating room ; railways
may have changed the position of the old
accident ward, to reach which, in the days of
which I am writing, the two surgeons had to
pass a staircase leading to the upper stories.
On the lower step of this staircase, par-
tially in shadow, Hertford O'Donnell beheld,
as he came forward, an old woman seated.
An old woman with streaming grey hair,
with attenuated arms, with head bowed
forward, with scanty clothing, with bare
feet ; who never looked up at their approach,
l3ut sat unnoticing, shaking her head and
wringing her hands in an extremity of grief.
" Who is that ? " asked Mr. O'Donnell,
^' Who is what ? " demanded his com-
Hertford O^DonnelPs Warning, 2^^^
'' That — that woman," was the reply.
^^ What woman?"
'* There — are you blind? — seated on the
bottom step of the staircase. What is she
doing ? " persisted Mr. O'Donnell.
'' There is no woman near us," his com-
panion answered, looking at the rising
surgeon very much as though he suspected
him of seeing double.
"• 1^0 woman ! " scoffed Hertford. '' Do
you expect me to disbelieve the evidence of
my own eyes?" and he walked up to
the figure, meaning to touch it.
But as he essayed to do so, the woman
seemed to rise in the air and float away,
with her arms stretched high up over her
head, uttering such a wail of pain, and
agony, and distress, as caused the Irishman's
blood to curdle.
^•My God! Did you hear that?" he
said to his companion.
^^ What ? " was the reply.
Then, although he knew the sound had
fallen on deaf ears, he answered —
286 Hertford C DonneWs Warning.
" The wail of the banshee ! Some of my
people are doomed ! "
'^ I trust not," answered the house-surgeon,
who had an idea, nevertheless, that Hertford
O'Donnell's banshee lived in a whisky-
bottle, and that she would some day make
an end of that rising and clever operator.
With nerves utterly shaken, Mr. O'Don-
nell walked forward to the accident ward.
There, with his face shaded from the light,
lay his patient — ^a young boy, with a com-
pound fracture of the thigh.
In that ward, in the face of actual pain or
danger capable of relief, the surgeon had
never known faltering nor fear ; and now he
carefully examined the injury, felt the pulse,
inquired as to the treatment pursued, and
ordered the sufferer to be carried to the opera-
While he was looking out his instru-
ments he heard the boy lying on the table
murmur faintly —
'' Tell her not to cry so — tell her not to
Hertford O^DonnelPs Warning, 287
'' What is he talking about ? " Hertford
" The nui'se says he has been speaking
about some woman crying ever since he
came in — his mother, most likely," answered
one of the attendants.
"He is delirious, then?" observed the
" No, sir," pleaded the boy, excitedly.
* * No ; it is that woman — that woman with
the grey hair. I saw her looking from the
upper window before the balcony gave way.
She has never left me since, and she won't
be quiet, wringing her hands and crying."
"Can you see her now?" Hertford
O'Donnell inquired, stepping to the side of
the table. "Point out where she stands."
Then the lad stretched forth a feeble
finger in the direction of the door, where
clearly, as he had seen her seated on the
stairs, the surgeon saw a woman standing —
a woman with grey hair and scanty clothing,
and upstretched arms and bare feet.
288 Hertford O^DonnelPs Warning.
^^ A word with you, sir," O'Donnell said
to the house-surgeon, drawing him back
from the table. "I cannot perform this
operation ; send for some other person. I
am ill : I am incapable."
^^But," pleaded the other, " there is no
time to get any one else. We sent for Mr.
before we troubled you, but he was out
of town, and all the rest of the surgeons live
so far away. Mortification may set in at
any moment, and "
^' Do you think you require to teach me
my business ? " was the reply. "I know
the boy's life hangs on a thread, and that is
the very reason I cannot operate. I am not
fit for it. I tell you I have seen to-night
that which unnerves me for anything. My
hand is not steady. Send for some one else
without delay. Say I am ill — dead ! — what
you please. Heavens ! there she is again,
right over the boy ! Do you hear her ? "
and Hertford O'Donnell fell fainting on the
Hertford G^DonneWs Warning. 289
He lay in that death-like swoon for hours ;
and when he returned to consciousness, the
principal physician of Guy's was standing
beside him in the cold grey light of the
" The boy ? " murmured O'Donnell,
'^ Now, my dear fellow, keep yourself
quiet," was the reply.
'^ The boy ? " he repeated, irritably.
" Who operated?"
'^No one," Dr. answered. ^' It
would have been useless cruelty. Mortifi-
cation had set in, and "
Hertford O'Donnell turned his face to the
wall, and his friend could not see it.
^' Do not distress yourself," went on the
physician, kindly. " Allington says he
could not have survived the operation in
any case. He was quite delirious from the
first, raving about a woman with grey hair,
" Yes, I know," Hertford O'Donnell inter-
YOL. III. u
290 Hertford G^DoJineWs H^arning,
rupted ; " and the boy liad a motlier, they
told me, or I dreamt it."
*' Yes, bruised and shaken, but not
" Has she blue eyes and fair hair — fair
hair all rippling and wavy ? Is she white
as a lily, with just a faint flush of colour in
her cheek ? Is she young, and trusting,
and innocent ? No ; I am wandering. She
must be nearly thirty, now. Go, for God's
sake, and tell me if you can find a woman
that you could imagine having been as a
girl such as I describe."
" Irish ? " asked the doctor ; and O'Don-
nell made a gesture of assent.
^' It is she, then," was the reply ; *^ a
woman with the face of an angel."
"A woman who should have been my
wife," the surgeon answered ; *^ whose child
was my son."
" Lord help you ! " ejaculated the doctor.
Then Hertford O'Donnell raised himself
from the sofa where they had laid him, and
Hertford O^DonneWs Warning. 291
told his companion the story of his life —
how there had been bitter feud between his
people and her people — how they were
divided by old animosities and by difference
of religion — how they had met by stealth,
and exchanged rings and vows, all for
nought — how his family had insulted hers,
so that her father, wishful for her to marry
a kinsman of his own, bore her off to a far-
away land, and made her write him a letter
of eternal farewell — ^how his own parents had
kept all knowledge of the quarrel from him
till she was utterly beyond his reach — how
they had vowed to discard him unless he
agreed to marry according to their wishes —
how he left his home, and came to London,
and pushed his fortune. All this Hertford
O'Donnell repeated ; and when he had
finished, the bells were ringing for morning
service — ringing loudly — ringing joyfully.
" Peace on earth, good will towards men."
But there was little peace that morning
for Hertford O'Donnell. He had to look on
292 Hertford C Donneir s Warning,
the face of his dead son, wherein he beheld,
as though reflected, the face of the boy in
Stealthily he followed his friend, and
beheld, with her eyes closed, her cheeks
pale and pinched, her hair thinner, . but still
falling like a veil over her, the love of his
youth, the only woman he had ever loved
devotedly and unselfishly.
There is little space left here, to tell of
how the two met at last — of how the stone
of the years seemed suddenly rolled away
from the tomb of their past, and their youth
arose and returned to them even amid their
She had been true to him, through perse-
cution, through contumely, through kind-
ness, which was more trying ; through
shame, and grief, and poverty, she had been
loyal to the lover of her youth ; and before
the new year dawned there came a letter
from Calgillan, saying that the banshee had
been heard there, and praying Hertford, if
Hertford O^DonnelPs War^iing, 293
lie were still alive, to let bygones be by-
gones, in consideration of the long years of
estrangement — the anguish and remorse of
his afflicted parents.
More than that. Hertford O'Donnell, if
a reckless man, was an honourable ; and so,
on the Christmas Day when he was to have
proposed for Miss Ingot, he went to that
lady, and told her how he had wooed and
won in the years of his youth one who after
many days was miraculously restored to him ;
and from the hour in which he took her into
his confidence he never thought her either
vulgar or foolish, but rather he paid homage
to the woman who, when she had heard the
whole tale repeated, said, simply, '-'- Ask her
to come to me till you claim her — and God
bless you both ! "
PBINTED BX TAXLOB AND CO.,
LITTLE QUBBJC STKBBT, LINCOLN'S INN FIBLD8.